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National Restaurant Association - Raising Chicago’s minimum wage won’t help its economy

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Raising Chicago’s minimum wage won’t help its economy

Raising Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour will not only hurt the city’s slow-to-recover economy, but also result in increased unemployment, industry leaders said in a July 12 op-ed article in the Sun-Times newspaper.

A Chicago task force recently recommended the wage increase.

The National Restaurant Association’s Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs, and Chicago restaurateur Sam Sanchez, owner of the John Barleycorn, Moe’s Cantina, Old Crow Smokehouse and Chen’s Chinese and Sushi restaurants, said that although the city is finally experiencing an economic turnaround, its unemployment rate is currently above 8 percent and its youth unemployment figure is more than 25 percent.

“Dramatically increasing Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 will not bring the economic growth and relief this city needs,” the two wrote. “Raising the minimum wage is not a silver bullet solution for addressing the city’s economic challenges… It will not fundamentally address poverty or income inequality. Chicago would be better served by comprehensive economic policies that promote hiring and growth.”

DeFife and Sanchez both testified before a task force assembled by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The two said the mayor was right to consider input from business leaders, but that the task force’s final recommendations would do nothing but “cause job loss and price increases, especially outside of the downtown business district.”

The restaurant industry welcomes discussion on wage issues, “in part because we provide nearly 10 percent of the nation’s jobs and [employ] more than 300,000 people in Chicago,” DeFife and Sanchez wrote. “We need comprehensive solutions that would help create jobs, strengthen the middle class, increase opportunities for families and put more money back into the economy.”

Read the entire op-ed here.

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