CHICAGO – At Baker Miller, a two-year-old bakery on Western Avenue in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood, workers are baking the shop's famous cinnamon rolls. But in this kitchen, they're also cooking up an economic experiment.
Chicago's minimum wage increased to $10 an hour last Wednesday, and it's scheduled to reach $13 an hour in the next four years -- but at this bakery, the future is already here.
All employees at Baker Miller make the same amount: $14 hour -- from the cashier to the cook to the dishwasher.
The fight for increased minimum wage has been a long-standing progressive political priority, pushed in Chicago by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Critics have argued that an increase in workers’ wages would mean a decrease in profits, and could force business owners to cut the very workers the minimum wage is designed to protect, ultimately hampering the economic recovery.
Conservative politicians have argued that the free market, not the government, should determine wages. And some business owners also say that an entry-level jobs are not supposed to be family sustaining jobs.
Chicago's minimum wage is higher than the minimum of $8.25 an hour across the rest of Illinois -- and the city far surpasses the minimum wages set in all the other states in the Midwest .
Higher wages may make for happier workers, but it remains to be seen how Chicago's increase will affect other business in the long-term.