At this Chicago bakery, a present look into minimum wage’s future

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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.

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  • Joe Schmoe

    You forgot to mention the employees are pooling their tips, which are non taxable dollars, to increase their wage to 14/hr. Thus the owners are “paying” them with customers money, not their own.

    • Dave Miller

      Hi Joe Schmoe-
      Yes, that is partially true. However there are a few points you’ve misunderstood. Employee tips don’t currently average out to $14/hr and tips are not dispersed to everyone. We’re making up the difference in pay by paying everyone who isn’t tipped an hourly wage of $14/hr. It costs us about 3-5k per month extra. Second- we’re also providing paid vacation and sick days which cost a week or pay per employee per year.
      Feel free to reach out to us directly if you have questions or comments rather than posting uninformed and anonymous comments.

      Dave Miller