Does a Living Wage Mean Business Dies?

Dec 13, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Depending on who is speaking, laws guaranteeing a living wage either mean the beginning of a new more humane workplace and society or the end of business development along with an associated loss of jobs and government revenues.

Aldermen Edward Burke and Joseph Moore apparently belong to those in the first camp as they are looking to put their proposals for a living wage ordinance before the Chicago City Council for a vote.

Voting in favor of a living wage, say proponents, would reduce the number of working poor and get government out of the business of subsidizing retailers that fail to provide adequate pay and medical benefits for employees.

Critics warn that enactment of a living wage ordinance would keep new business from entering the city and drive existing businesses out.

Rob Karr, vice president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, told the Chicago Sun-Times, the city is already losing tax revenues to outlying areas and a living wage law “would only make things worse.”

The living wage laws proposed by the Messrs. Moore and Burke call for wages of full-time workers in stores (including parking lots) in excess of 75,000 square feet to be well above minimum wage. Moore’s plan calls for an hourly rate of $10.42 while Burke is looking for employers to pay $9.43 an hour. Companies would also be required to pay employee benefits at a minimum of $3 an hour under the plans put forth by the aldermen.

Moderator’s Comment: What will be the impact on retailers, workers and Chicago if the city approves a living wage

George Anderson – Moderator

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