CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by actor Martin Sheen to continue his ongoing fight to raise Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25 to at least $10. Last year the Governor proposed raising the minimum wage in his 2013 State of the State address and today’s visit to Chicago’s historic St. Pius V Church is part of his agenda to build an economy that works for everyone.
“Raising the minimum wage is a common-sense proposal that will benefit hundreds of thousands of workers across Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “This is about dignity and decency. Raising the minimum wage will lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and boost more local economic growth.”
Martin Sheen, an award-winning actor and strong advocate for social justice, strongly supports increasing the minimum wage and today lent his support to the Governor’s fight for Illinois workers.
“I’m proud to join Governor Quinn in helping to stand up for the thousands of hardworking people across Illinois who suffer from poverty,” Martin Sheen said. “Raising the minimum wage is about social justice—it’s about giving everyone a fair opportunity to live and grow.”
Last month, Governor Quinn met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior administration officials at the White House in Washington, D.C. to discuss raising the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and President Obama is pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
The Illinois minimum wage ($8.25) – is less than half of the average U.S. hourly wage. A full-time minimum wage worker in Illinois makes approximately $17,000 annually, which is well below the Federal Poverty Threshold of $19,790 for a family of three. Six in 10 minimum wage employees are female, including many single parents.
“As a low-wage nursing home worker, it is time that we honor, reward and respect the hard and often grueling work that low-income people do every single day by raising the minimum wage,” Susana Fragoso, who works at the Grove Of Evanston Rehabilitation Center, said. “Right now, our economy works for the wealthy and big corporations, but it’s not working for working families. That’s why it is critical that we raise the minimum wage to strengthen our families and our communities.”
The Governor supports raising Illinois’ minimum wage over the next two years. By increasing the Illinois minimum wage to $10, a half-million Illinois consumers will make an extra $4,800 a year and much of that extra income will typically be spent at local businesses on food, clothing and furniture, providing a strong boost to the local economy.
Studies conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago show that an increase of $1 in the minimum wage generates approximately $3,000 in household spending per year, greatly improving purchasing power and strengthening our economy. Nearly two-thirds of small business owners support raising the federal minimum wage because they believe it will help the economy and in turn enable them to hire more workers, according to a recent survey conducted by the Small Business Majority.
Leaders from large companies such as Costco, Starbucks, The Gap, Inc. and Stride Rite also have supported increasing the minimum wage as a way to reduce employee turnover and improve workers’ productivity. The Gap Inc. recently acted to raise its own minimum wage to $10 for all U.S. employees. The move is expected to impact 65,000 American workers and more than 4,000 employees in Illinois.