Minimum wage increase starts Wednesday comes at a tough time for small businesses

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Beginning Wednesday, July 1 in Chicago, the minimum wage for people working for companies with less than 20 workers goes up to $13.50 an hour. It increases to $14 an hour for businesses with 21 or more workers.

In Cook County, workers will see an increase to $13 an hour.

And in the state of Illinois, the minimum wage goes up to $10 an hour. It’s the second increase this year.

“This is really a great time for workers in our city and across the state,” Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor Don Villar said. ”We are lifting up so many people from poverty, we’re lifting up so many struggling of workers families out there.”

It’s great news for minimum wage workers, but it comes at an especially tough time for small businesses, particularly businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many had to close and some are just now starting to re-open.

Jack Lavin is the president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

“Their cash flow has been significantly decreased and they need that cash flow to get back open again,” he said. “And really figure out new safety protocols, figure out what their new customer base is going to look like and really bring people back to work.”

On top of the minimum wage increase, a new scheduling ordinance also goes into effect Wednesday. It requires employers to give their employees 10 days notice of their work schedule. Any changes that are made after that requires extra pay.

“If you’re trying to build a living with your job and your shifts could be canceled last minute, or they can be moved around without a lot of advance notice, that makes it very difficult for the other obligations that we have in our life, to plan for our household budgets and to plan for childcare issues” employment attorney Sara Fowler said.

Lavin believes the scheduling ordinance coupled with the rising minimum wage adds stress to small businesses.

“We have lots of issues going on right now. We have the minimum wage rising. We have the scheduling ordinance. We have property taxes going up. We have a pandemic,” he said. “And so the way businesses operate, both from an operation standpoint and what their customer bases, all these things have changed.”

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