Russell: Increased minimum wage will result in 'significant net loss of income'
The six-year minimum wage spike signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this week will be unlike any other such increase in Illinois, a Saline County official and businessman said during a recent interview.
"In the past, when minimum wage increased, many others already making more than minimum also got an increase," Jonathan Russell, owner of Russell Oil Company-ROC One Stop on East Main Street in Galatia, told the SE Illinois News. "This time we will see more salary compression. I serve on the Saline County Board and Harrisburg School Board, and expect wages to stagnate outside retail as well."
Illinois workers will lose in the long run, Russell said.
"I believe there will be a significant net loss of income over time," he said.
Russell also is vice president of the Saline County Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1, which will nearly double Illinois' current minimum wage of $8.25 to $15 over the next six years. The first increase in the state's minimum wage will be by $1 in January, which will mean another $40 per week and $2,080 per year in labor costs for each full-time minimum wage worker in Illinois.
For years, Conservatives, including Republican lawmakers in Springfield, have warned that increasing Illinois' minimum wage would hurt workers, including those with disabilities, by reducing the number of jobs in the state; will not help the state's economy; and would not resolve the state's financial crisis. Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) last week—and in vain—called for further deliberation before the House passed the Senate bill and it sped to Pritzker's desk.
The measure, from passing the Senate to being signed Tuesday, was processed in less than two weeks.
What lawmakers in Springfield did swiftly will have a negative impact on his and other downstate businesses, Russell said.
The increased labor costs will mean high prices for Illinois consumers, Russell said.
"I am sure prices will start to increase as cost will increase," he said. "I also expect additional price increases from our vendors who are located in Illinois.
The downstate had little say in the increase, Russell said.
"I personally feel and have seen our local leaders working for us, but it is difficult fighting against politicians outside of southern Illinois," he said.
Which is why Russell has a message for those Springfield lawmakers who did push the minimum wage through.
"There is more to Illinois than Chicago," he said. "There needs to be a reasonable balance between urban and rural Illinois."