The Chicago City Council approved a plan Tuesday to hike the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2019.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called a special city council meeting to pass the minimum wage ordinance, impacting businesses within city limits. Aldermen were informed of the meeting as early as last Wednesday, according to the mayor's office.
The plan passed the council with an overwhelming majority vote of 44 to 5.
"Jobs weren't meant to be permanent," said Alderman Pat O'Connor. "Today we're doing our part for our little corner of the world."
Emanuel said "it was a healthy debate" but noted the increase will help people afford to live in Chicago.
"There is a difference between Chicago and Kankakee," he said.
The last time the minimum wage was raised in the city was in 2007.
Gov. Pat Quinn said raising the minimum wage "is the right thing to do for all hardworking families in our state." He also said he's working to raise the minimum wage statewide.
Some experts called the plan's approval a "victory" for working Chicagoans.
"The boost to income also means that they will be able to buy goods and services in Chicago's stores and restaurants and help propel the local economy," John Bouman, President of Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law said in a statement. "A higher wage in Chicago gives all workers in the city a better chance for upward mobility."
Ald. Brendan Reilly was among the few who voted against the measure.
"I would advocate the best solution would be the federal level," he said. "That would be the most appropriate path."
Mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who urged Emanuel last week to call the council into emergency session, said in a statement the hike "will provide immediate relief to more than 400,000 of our fellow residents, who are struggling to survive on low wages."
"I continue to support a minimum wage increase that will bring low wage workers up to $15 an hour," Garcia said. "As Mayor, I will pass legislation to do that my first year in office -- not my last.”