A group of Chicago city aldermen are following the lead of politicians in other major U.S. cities with a planned proposal to raise the Windy City’s minimum wage to $15.
Between 12 and 15 of the city council members back the proposal, says Alderman Ricardo Munoz, Reuters reports.
Munoz expects more to join the push.
“Study after study demonstrates that when you put money into the pockets of consumers, they spend it,” Munoz told Reuters. “They don’t hoard it in their mattresses,” he said.
Chicago has been a major focal point for labor activists in the minimum wage fight. Last week, demonstrators protested outside of McDonald’s headquarters in the city, asking the fast food chain to hike wages to $15.
The minimum wage in the city is currently $8.25.
And Mayor Rahm Emanuel has addressed the issue. Earlier this month, he announced the formation of the Minimum Wage Working Group, which has 45 days to come up with a plan to increase the city’s minimum wage.
The Chicago proposal would go far beyond a referendum that Illinois voters could vote for in November, which would raise the minimum to $10, according to Reuters.
Leaders in other U.S. cities have gone with plans for a wage hike on par with the Chicago proposal. Seattle mayor Ed Murray announced a plan earlier this month to raise the minimum wage to the same $15 target.
The idea was sparked by Kshama Sawant, an outspoken socialist recently elected to the city council there.
The plan is still pending approval by the council.
President Barack Obama has pushed for a wage hike as well. He’s called for an increase from the current $7.25 minimum to $10.10, though Republicans nearly unanimously oppose the effort.
Almost doubling Chicago’s minimum wage would hurt job opportunities for Chicagoans, says one policy analyst.
“No politician can say that this will provide more opportunities and jobs in the city,” said Ted Dabrowski, the vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. “Those workers who are lucky enough to keep their jobs might see higher wages, but those who will lose their jobs or see their hours cut will be forced onto the unemployment rolls.”
The city’s overall unemployment rate is 10.9 percent, while Illinois’ rate sits at 9.2 percent. By contrast, the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent in the U.S. as a whole.