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August 22, 2003

Illinois Raises Minimum Wage

IL Governor Blagojevich signed a bill raising the state's minimum wage to $6.50 per hour over the next sixteen months.

Yes- that's a raise, since the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour since 1997. In real dollars, the minimum wage is lower than it's been since the 1950s and 30% less than its peak in 1968 when no one was supposed to make less than about $7.40 per hour. See the following graph for changes in the real value of the minimum wage over time.

The graph is courtesty of the Economic Policy Institute which also refutes the canard that minimum wage workers are just high school students earning a few extra bucks.

68% of those who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage are 20 years or older. Close to half (45.3%) of the affected workers are employed full time, and another third (34%) work between 20 and 34 hours per week.

So we are talking about millions of adults working full-time at the minimum wage or just above it-- trying to eak out a life to feed themselves and often a family.

Yet conservatives continue to fight tooth-and-nail giving them a raise, while pissing away trillions on tax cuts for the wealthy. Yes, there's class war going on in our society and it's being conducted by the same folks conducting our hot wars around the world.

Posted by Nathan at August 22, 2003 10:43 AM