Minimum wage has become a contentious political issue, even though it has little to do with a living wage.
Federally imposed minimum wage now stand at $7.25 an hour. President Obama and Democratic legislators are calling for $10.10 by 2016. It matters not that according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (the government's own bean counter), President Obama's proposed minimum wage hike would result in another half-million lost jobs.
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Here in Illinois the minimum wage is already $1 higher at $8.25 than the set federal minimum wage level of $7.25. Nevertheless, Democratic legislators think there is a good chance of raising the Illinois' minimum wage to $10.10 this year.
Gov. Quinn has even called for a for a hike in Illinois's minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.65 per hour, supported in a resolution by the Chicago City Council.
Even though raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour appears to have broad support in Illinois, can this high-unemployment state afford another "Don't hire here" message?
Illinois is desperate for jobs and lags behind neighboring states and nationwide in job creation. Moody's Analytics put Illinois dead last in job creation for this year, predicting the state's payroll job numbers will only grow 0.98 percent to create a limited number of 57,000 jobs.
The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old. Intended to be honorable, in practice it is fundamentally flawed. If the minimum wage were raised to $10 dollars or above an hour, all workers now earning that amount will ask for an increase as well, because their productivity is worth more than the minimum wage workers'.
It is time to put this hoary debate behind us, and find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.
Nancy J. Thorner