Downstate Business Owners: $15 Minimum Wage Will Crush Us

State Capitol, February 11, 2019 — Rob Karr, of the Illinois Retail Merchants Assn, is joined by business owners from across the state, who say the impact of the proposed $15/hour minimum wage bill will be disastrous for their firms.

The owners take turns describing the impact of raising the minimum wage by nearly 100% over a space of roughly five years. One owner, who has plants in neighboring Missouri, says he would be forced to move a lot of jobs out of Illinois, due to the slim profit margins that are key to his business being competitive.

Several small restaurateurs note they would have to make drastic changes to the number they employ, and cut back on benefits they already provide to employees.

Mike Monseur, who operates two restaurant businesses, one a Godfather’s Pizza, said he now employs around 200 workers, who make good money from bonuses and tips. The impact of a $15/hour minimum wage he says would be his having to hike the cost of his pizza’s on middle-class families, and he notes that customers will only pay so much for a pizza.

Monseur and other small pizza operations also face the competition of mass produced pizzas that are sold in grocery stores for $5-$6, while the local pizza parlors may average a cost that is $10-$15 a pizza.

Most of the business owners say they are not opposed to a rise in the minimum wage, but that the state should follow what Oregon did, and set different levels for different parts of the state.

Rob Karr with IRMA, said a $15/hour minimum in Chicago, which gets millions of tourists and convention attendees every year, can handle a $15/hour minimum wage – but not those firms outside of Chicago, whose business relies on local residents.

Karr proposes setting a $13/hour minimum for the counties just outside Chicago, and a minimum of $11/hour for downstate — with the increase being spread over 10 years, not the five years now in the bill that passed the Senate last week.