Minimum Wage Hike and Poverty

The last time the Illinois Commission for the Elimination of Poverty took a measure of the problem – 760,000 persons living in poverty in 2012 – and traveled the state hearing about the problem, it came to a conclusion.

Raise the minimum wage, it said, and explained that:


Improve workplace compensation by increasing minimum wage/living wage and benefit standards: Workers earning minimum wage have trouble meeting their basic needs, and minimum wage workers with children are struggling to provide for their families. A minimum wage worker working full time year-round earns roughly $17,000 per year. That means that a single parent with two kids would fall below the federal poverty line ($19,090 for a family of three in 2012) The minimum wage should provide workers a minimum standard of living necessary for health and well-being and keep working families out of poverty.

What’s the state of poverty across Illinois and Chicago today?

You can get a reliable and well resourced measure of that when the Social Impact Research Center at Heartland Alliance issues its annual report on Jan 30th.

It presents an unprecedented snapshot of how poverty has changed since the war on poverty began,” explains Amy Terpstra, associate director for the research organization. This year’s report will also focus, she adds, on women, low wage workers, veterans and minorities.

from Progress Illinois

from Progress Illinois

Here’s their link:

There is a very good reason why this data is important today.

If you are reporting on the effort to raise minimum wages – which is on the March ballot in Chicago – or any of the many drives to boost wages and working conditions for low wage workers, you need to explain the context:

How many workers live on day to day wages?

How have their numbers and their faces changed?

Where do they live and what impact does that have on their communities?

We’ll be talking about these numbers with Amy and others from her group at our Feb. 11th forum on low wage workers. We will be meeting at 6 pm at 618 S. Michigan Ave., Stage Two, Columbia College, Chicago.

We’ll also be hearing from a number of activists and community groups involved in the minimum wage and other drives on behalf of low wage workers.

So, join us.

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