By Leslie Lina Paluch, Policy and Advocacy Manager
At YWCA Evanston/North Shore, our mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. A critical component of this social justice vision is workers’ rights. We believe that all people have the right to economic security and should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential in the workforce.
As part of our increased focus on advocacy, we are working hard to champion policy initiatives that encourage economic advancement for women, particularly for women of color.
Providing a living wage to our nation’s workers is at the top of this list, so we’re encouraged and excited by the recent passage of SB 1, increasing the minimum wage in Illinois from today’s $8.25/hour to $15/hour by 2025.
Illinois is the fifth state, behind California, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, to guarantee a $15 minimum wage for its workers, and it is the first state in the Midwest to do so.
For families in Cook County, this new law is vitally important. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the “living wage” for a single adult without children is estimated to be $13.54 in Cook County, meaning a single adult must earn at least $13.54 per hour working full time to support herself here. Two working adults with one child must each make about $14.74 per hour full time to meet their basic needs, and families in Cook County with only one working parent or more than one child must make more than $15 per hour to maintain a living wage.
At YWCA Evanston/North Shore, we offer programs – from basic money management classes in English and Spanish, to financial coaching, to job training – to empower women in our community and help them achieve and maintain financial independence and support their families. But programs can only do so much. We need action from lawmakers, too.
Thank you to the members of the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker, who supported this measure from introduction to passage. SB 1 is an important step forward for Illinois, and for all women and families in our community.