Cook County will soon join Chicago in increasing its minimum wage to $13 an hour.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the increase Wednesday, one day after a finance committee passed the measure.
Earlier this year, Chicago’s minimum wage increased to $10.50 an hour, with plans for it to grow to $13 per hour by 2019. The Cook County plan will now similarly raise the minimum wage incrementally by 2020.
It’s estimated that by 2019, the wage bumps will have brought hundreds of thousands out of poverty and added $860 million to the city’s economy.
While some believed the county should wait for the state to approve a minimum wage increase, the Cook County Board said it decided to take on the issue because the “federal government and General Assembly have failed to act.”
“The fact is that the City of Chicago has already committed to a minimum wage increase. Since then, the drumbeat for a countywide wage increase has grown louder,” Commissioner Richard Boykin said in a statement. “If there is one trend that is more harmful to our Cook County economy more than any other, it is uncertainty.”
Boykin noted that while he sympathizes with "the arguments presented in opposition to this measure," he is "mindful of the challenge to our small businesses that is presented by a lack of uniformity in our wage laws."
"The overwhelming majority of employees in our regional economy are employed by small business," he said. "When small business suffers, the entire economy suffers, and the number of employment opportunities for our workers shrinks."