Village of Barrington to resist Cook County minimum wage hike

Village of Barrington to resist Cook County minimum wage hike

The northwest suburb of Barrington passed an ordinance to allow local businesses to forgo Cook County’s minimum wage hike, which has the potential to be devastating for jobs in the county.

The Cook County Board approved a minimum wage increase to $13 an hour for the suburbs Oct. 26. But one northwest suburb is pushing back, citing the policy’s likelihood of killing jobs.

Barrington officials approved an ordinance letting local businesses forgo the county ordinance that would gradually increase the county’s minimum wage to $13 by 2020. Barrington is split between Cook and Lake counties, and the village manager worried businesses would disproportionally favor the Lake County side with the new Cook County wage mandate.

The village’s ordinance allows businesses to comply just with state and federal minimum wage laws. The Cook County ordinance will make the minimum wage $10 in July 2017 and would increase a dollar each year until $13 in 2020. The Illinois Constitution allows non-home-rule municipalities like Barrington, to pass ordinances that conflict with county measures.

Barrington officials are right to be concerned, and communities across Cook County should have the same worries.

Along with other job-killing policies in Illinois, a high minimum wage has disproportionally worked against young and minority workers. The Land of Lincoln had the highest black unemployment rate in the nation and nearly half of black males in Illinois aged 20-to-24 out of work in 2014. Had former Gov. Pat Quinn succeeded in his efforts to increase the state’s minimum wage before he left office, economists estimated Illinois would’ve lost 10,500 youth employment opportunities, with black, male teens being hurt most.

Regressive policies like minimum wage hikes are not uncommon for Cook County officials, who also recently passed a tax on sugary drinks that disproportionally affects poor and minority residents as well. The county is also home to one of the nation’s highest sales taxes, bound to hurt the poorest county residents the most, with others fleeing the county altogether.

Cook County politicians should not be preying on the area’s poor and minority residents to fix financial woes created by decades of reckless spending, and they should not be restricting businesses trying to employ people who need work. Villages like Barrington – concerned about opportunities evaporating for Illinoisans eager for them – are taking the right approach. Instead of handcuffing business owners and over burdening taxpayers, Cook County officials need to look for real reforms and cuts to correct their finances.

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