Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

January 22, 2014

The minimum wage debate

(Continued)

It always has to pencil out.

And Quinn wants to raise the minimum wage by 21 percent.

This would leave low-skill workers vulnerable — very vulnerable.

Instead of having a low-paying job, they could face the prospect of no job at all.

“I’ll be the first to admit that you can’t support a family on a minimum-wage job,” said Kim Clarke Maisch, who heads the Illinois chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. “But the vast majority of people with minimum-wage jobs are high school students, college students and people who aren’t the primary earner in their families.”

Illinois already has a minimum wage higher than any of its neighbors — and it has an unemployment rate higher them, too.

If a higher minimum wage would boost the economy — as Gov. Quinn and some of his would-be GOP opponents contend — we should now have the most prosperous job market in the Midwest, not the worst one.

Increasing the cost of labor will further exacerbate the problem.

Low-skill workers will be denied that first rung on the economic ladder that they need to climb out of poverty.

And let’s face it: Working beats being unemployed any day of the week.

Not only does work provide income, it also enhances a person’s self-worth.

Raising the minimum wage will make some low-skill workers too costly to hire.

And that’s denying opportunity to those who need it most.

Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter and the journalist in residence at the Illinois Policy Institute. He can be reached at sreeder@illinoispolicy.org.

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