New minimum wage rates will still take effect throughout Illinois in 2021, despite financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, state officials announced Wednesday.
Beginning Jan. 1, the Illinois Department of Labor will increase the statewide minimum wage rate to $11 per hour and to $6.60 for tipped workers.
"We want people who are working at the lowest wages in our economy, the poorest working people in Illinois, we think that they deserve a raise," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
Illinois officials asked that employees watch their paychecks throughout the new year to ensure time worked is being paid at the new rate.
“We want to make sure that workers earning minimum wage are aware that the $1 increase should be reflected in their pay checks for any time they work after the first of the year,” Michael Kleinik, director of the state's labor department, said. “While we fully expect employers will pay the new wage, we also want workers to be aware of the change.”
In 2019, Pritzker signed legislation into law providing a path to increase Illinois' minimum wage rate to $15 per hour and $9 for tipped workers by 2025. During 2020, most residents saw two minimum wage increases -- first to $9.25 in January, then to $10 in July.
Before the increases over past year, the state's minimum wage rate was $8.25 and $13 in Cook County, containing Chicago. Currently, Chicago's minimum wage is $13.50 per hour for "small employers" and $14 for "large employers."
According to a study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute at the University of Illinois, more than 1.4 million adult hourly workers in Illinois make less than $15 per hour.
"The new law maintains provisions for employers to count gratuities to offset wages for workers such as food servers who regularly earn tips," a release said. "Tipped employees may be paid 60% of the hourly minimum wage."
Should workers not earn the minimum wage after receiving the tips, the employer must make up the difference, according to the release.
Officials said workers under the age of 18 and working fewer than 650 hours in a year will earn a wage of $8.50 in the new year. The youth minimum wage rate is expected to increase to $13 an hour by 2025.