Minimum Wage Increases in Cook County and City of Chicago

September 8, 2017

By Associate Attorney Meg MacNair

On October 26, 2016, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance increasing minimum wage in suburban Cook County. It is a tiered increase. The minimum wage will increase according to the following schedule:

1. An initial increase to $10 an hour effective July 1, 2017.

2. $11 an hour in July 2018

3. $12 an hour in July 2019

4. $13 an hour by July 2020

After July 2020, subsequent annual increases will be based on the rate of inflation (not to exceed 2.5 percent). The ordinance also states that if the state or federal minimum wage was to exceed the thresholds set forth, the higher rate would prevail.

The County ordinance also provides an increase for tipped workers earning less than $4.95 an hour beginning in July 2018. These workers will also receive an increase equal to the rate of inflation (unless the unemployment rate in Cook County is 8.5% or higher). The ordinance applies to all unincorporated and suburban areas of Cook County, but home rule communities may vote to opt out of minimum wage increases.

Similar to Cook County, in 2014, the City of Chicago approved minimum wage of $13 an hour by 2019. For non-tipped workers, minimum wage was increased to $10 an hour in July 2015, then to $10.50 an hour in July 2016 and then $11 an hour in July 2017. It will continue to rise by $1.00 each July until it reaches $13 an hour in July 2019. The City of Chicago’s minimum wage will also increase with the rate of inflation, but will not exceed 2.5 percent, provided the City’s unemployment rate from the previous year is less than 8.5 percent. The City of Chicago ordinance does not include any increase for tipped workers; however, Cook County’s increase for tipped workers would apply to all workers in the City of Chicago.

Critics maintain that specific city and county ordinances create competitive disadvantages across business communities and that the better solution is a statewide increase, however unlikely that may be, given that similar measures have languished in the General Assembly since 2009. Any statewide increase in minimum wage is something the attorneys at Illinois Advocates will be keeping a close eye on.

The attorneys at Illinois Advocates can assist you in navigating the rules around minimum wage and ensure that you are being paid fairly and accurately.