Area businesses are overwhelmingly opposed to increasing the state's minimum wage, as was recently proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn.
In surveys conducted by chambers of commerce in the region, 86 percent of businesses responding were in opposition to Quinn's plan to increase the Illinois minimum wage from $8.25 to at least $10.
Chambers in Peoria, Pekin, Bloomington, Lincoln, Canton, Springfield and Champaign released results from 1,150 people who responded to surveys.
"Business leaders told us they would be forced to increase their product cost which would be passed on to consumers," said Roberta Parks, president of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.
Of the 323 members responding to the Peoria chamber survey, 84 percent were opposed to the increase with 14 percent in favor.
Parks said the survey also sought to determine the impact on business if Quinn's proposal passed. Twenty-five percent said a minimum wage hike would force them to increase prices while 21 percent said they would have to reduce staff to compensate for a wage increase, she said.
Bill Fleming, president of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Pekin survey showed that 77 percent of those responding opposed raising the minimum wage to $10.
"Groups that hire kids for the summer came right out and said they'd have to raise prices for families or cut back on the number of kids hired," he said.
"Some of the other comments suggested that the state concentrate on other problems first and that the way to lift wages is to create additional jobs."
Parks said sources have told her that an amendment may be introduced in the Illinois Senate next week by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, for a bill raising the state's minimum wage from its present $8.25 to $10 over a three-year period.
"You'll hear more from us on this particular issue," Parks said.
The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25, making it the fourth highest minimum wage in the country, trailing Oregon ($8.80), Vermont ($8.46) and Washington ($9.04).
Border states Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin have minimum wage rates of $7.25 an hour.
The minimum wage in Illinois has been increased in recent years: to $7.50 in 2007; to $7.75 in 2008; to $8.00 in 2009; and to $8.25 in 2010
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
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