As we previously reported, the City of Chicago is gradually moving to a minimum wage of $13 an hour by July 2019. On Wednesday, Cook County joined the City of Chicago in gradually increasing the minimum wage by approving a minimum wage increase for non-tipped workers to $13 an hour by July 2020.
The City’s gradual minimum wage increases already have begun: the minimum wage for non-tipped workers increased to $10 an hour in July 2015, and then increased to $10.50 an hour in July 2016. The City’s minimum wage will continue to increase by $1.00 each July until it reaches $13.00 an hour in July 2019. Beginning in July 2020, the minimum wage will increase with the rate of inflation, but not to exceed 2.5%, provided the City’s unemployment rate from the previous year is less than 8.5%.
Like the City, Cook County passed a minimum wage ordinance that raises the minimum wage for non-tipped workers gradually over time until it reaches $13.00 an hour in July 2020. However, the County’s minimum wage increases lag more than a year behind the City’s: the first increase to $10.00 an hour is effective for Cook County in July 2017, and then increases by $1.00 each July until it reaches $13.00 an hour in July 2020. The County ordinance also provides an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers earning less than $4.95 an hour beginning in July 2018. These workers will receive an increase equal to the rate of inflation, but not to exceed 2.5%.
The County ordinance will apply to all unincorporated and suburban areas of Cook County, although home rule communities may vote to opt out of the minimum wage increase. Critics maintain that specific city and county ordinances create competitive disadvantages across business communities and that the better solution is a statewide increase, however unlikely that may be, given that similar measures have languished in the General Assembly since 2009.