Published On: Wed, Jul 9th, 2014

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Endorsing $13 Minimum Wage

The mayor’s announcement came as the City of Chicago was still reeling from the widespread gun violence it suffered over the 4th of July holiday weekend.

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Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has come out in favor of a $13 an hour minimum wage,  announcing that his his own city will apply this measure by 2018, as proposed by a panel he had appointed, The Minimum Wage Working Group.

The increase is deemed necessary due to the high cost of living in Chicago.

According to the mayor’s appointed panel, the increase will affect at least 410, 000 Chicago residents – 31% of the city’s work force — and bring in an additional $800 million to the city’s economy.

The panel recommended that the wage be increased gradually over a four year period, jumping to $9.50 an hour next year, to give local businesses time to prepare for the change. It also acknowledged that the increase will cause the cost of food, health care and retail to go up by as much as 2%.

The national minimum wage in the US, set by federal law, is currently only $7.25. But different states are allowed to pay above this rate. The State of Illinois minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. The new rate would mean about a 70% increase in Chicago over the current state level.

The panel suggested that a minimum wage increase ordinance should not be passed in Chicago before the Illinois Legislature acts on a statewide minimum wage increase.

Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for the Mayor, said this week, “Mayor Emanuel met with the Working Group at their final meeting this afternoon and was impressed by the thoroughness of their work. He fully supports the group’s balanced proposal.”

The plan calls for an exemption for all nonprofit programs employing people under the age of 25 which offer job training and other employment skills.

The panel, which was established in May, was co-chaired by Chicago South Side Alderman Will Burns and by John Bouman, president of the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law. It included representatives from businesses that oppose such a move and labor representatives who support it.

The mayor’s announcement came as the City of Chicago was still reeling from the widespread gun violence it suffered over the 4th of July holiday weekend. There were 82 reported shootings,  that led to 14 deaths.

Rahm Emanuel, 53, was elected Chicago’s first Jewish mayor in 2011. He ran for that office after having served as President Obama’s first chief of staff. A Democrat, Emanuel also served three terms in the US House of Representatives, rising to the leadership of his party’s congressional campaign committee.

Emanuel was born in Chicago to an Israeli father.

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