Interesting that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is calling a minimum wage hike from $8.25 to "at least" $10 an hour by year's end a "war on poverty." We agree that it is declaring war, but the war zone is the already shell-shocked Illinois job market and the casualties will be the poor and working poor.
Illinois is already a $1 an hour above the national minimum wage, making it the highest in the Midwest. And, Illinois is lagging in the economic recovery, with unemployment here at 8.3 percent vs. 6.6 percent nationally.
Even worse, Illinois unemployment has not changed in a year while the nation is nearly a percentage point better than a year ago. The local picture is even uglier: Madison County is at about the same rate as the state, but St. Clair County unemployment is at 9.3 percent and East St. Louis' unemployment rate is at 15.8 percent. Remember, the unemployment rate only includes those seeking work, not the folks who have given up.
Most business groups, small business owners and economists are against another hike in the minimum wage as a job killer, especially while the Illinois economy is still so fragile. When the labor costs are forced up without business growth, prices go up and the jobs get cut.
Quinn and other Democrats are using minimum wage as a campaign issue, in Quinn's case to distract from his abysmal record. Too bad that Illinois jobs will suffer from the uncertainty he is creating by even raising this issue.