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New Year brings pay raise to Illinois' minimum wage workers

For the last seven years, both Illinois and the federal government have engaged in inaction on raising minimum wages for their citizens. But state employment law will grant a pay raise to Illinois minimum wage workers on New Year's Day.

The federal government has kept its minimum wage at $7.25 since 2009, but states and other jurisdictions can require higher minimum wages for their workers. State legislatures, voter referendums, and cities and counties across the country have approved increases that exceed the federal wage.

Beginning on January 1, Illinois' minimum wage will be $9.25 per hour. It will increase to $15.00 per hour in 2025. The state's tipped minimum wage will go up to $5.55 in 2020. The Governor signed these increases into law last February. Illinois joins other 20 states approving measures to raise their minimum wages. These states include nearby Michigan, Ohio and Missouri.

Minimum wages vary across the country. Some states still enforce the federal $7.25 requirement. Florida's minimum wage increases by only 21 cents to $8.46 per hour in 2020.

Other states were more generous to workers. Washington voters approved a $13.50 minimum wage, twice the federal requirement, which takes effect in 2020. This is the highest of the new rates and an increase from the $12.00 minimum wage that was applicable in 2019.

Tipped employees rely on the generosity of their clients. As is the case in Illinois, these workers are guaranteed a lower minimum wage, but that minimum wage varies from state-to-state. For example, Arizona and Colorado will require a $9.00 and $8.98 minimum wage, respectively, in 2020, but New Mexico, even though it is one of their neighboring states, will require only $2.35 per hour.

In addition to laws requiring payment of wages, workers in Illinois also possess rights preventing workplace retaliation and wrongful termination, among other things. An attorney can help assure that these rights are protected and seek legal remedies for violations.

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