Illinois minimum wage hike 'poor policy' but businesses need to prepare, Technology & Manufacturing Association VP says
Raising Illinois' minimum wage to $15 per hour is "poor policy" that will end up "hurting those it is intended to benefit," but businesses need to prepare, a vice president for a comprehensive resource service provider for Midwest manufacturers said.
Businesses shouldn't be too comforted by the fact that the wage won't jump to $15 right away, Technology & Manufacturing Association Vice President Dennis LaComb told Prairie State Wire.
"Although the minimum wage increase will be phased in over a period of time, businesses will have to determine how they fit this into their budget, a budget that in many cases is already right on the margins thanks to the ever-increasing cost of doing business in the State of Illinois," LaComb said. "Manufacturers compete on the global marketplace, which means even minor cost increases could be the difference between getting and losing jobs. As a result, many manufacturers will have to cut costs elsewhere to accommodate the minimum wage increase, and some will likely have to look to neighboring states where their costs would be significantly lower than in Illinois."
Which is why state lawmakers should be having conversations with Illinois' business community, LaComb said.
"Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, mandating a specific wage in every sector and region in our state's diverse economy, our lawmakers should be speaking and working with businesses to create opportunities for advancement for Illinois workers," LaComb said. "The way to solve the wage problem is to create enough employment and educational opportunities so that our talented residents can grow beyond their minimum wage jobs. Manufacturers stand ready to work with Illinois lawmakers as an attractive outlet for Illinois residents looking for opportunities to grow beyond their current minimum wage jobs."
Technology & Manufacturing Association is headquartered in Schaumburg.
Last week, the Illinois Senate voted 38 to 18, largely on party lines, to pass an amendment to SB 1 that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over six years. Similar legislation sponsored by Illinois State Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), which also would raise the minimum wage but would offer a tax credit to employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees, remains in the Labor & Commerce Committee.
"SB1 is good politics but poor policy, increasing costs for businesses, costing jobs, and actually hurting those it is intended to benefit," LaComb said.
Illinois manufacturers already pay their workers "quite well," LaComb said. The most recent report by the National Association of Manufacturers found that manufacturing employees in the state make an average of $85,087 per year, an amount much high that the average Illinois worker's pay.
"This is a competitive advantage for an industry that is already struggling to attract the talent we need, yet SB1 would weaken that advantage," LaComb said. "As an association that represents, educates and advocates for manufacturing companies, this bill stifles one of Illinois' most economically important industries. We do not support SB1 and instead, businesses should have the ability to increase employee's pay as they see fit."
Increasing the state's minimum wage "will have major ramifications" in Illinois' manufacturing and other business sectors, particularly in the small business community, LaComb said.
"Management will have to take a serious look at their budgets and make the tough decision on whether they will be able to maintain their full workforce once the minimum wage increases," he said. "Due to high taxes and tight regulations on businesses already, this could potentially lead to even more businesses leaving our state for more business-friendly states. Lawmakers who support SB1 talk about the people that will benefit from this bill but don't mention the people that it will hurt."