Thursday, July 27, 2006


The Chicago City Council passed a minimum wage law yesterday. $10 an hour, plus $3 in benefits.

But wait, there's more! This law only applies to retailers over 90,000 square feet whose parent companies generate over a billion in yearly.

This might be the stupidest law I've ever seen. Maybe it works- as it is, the average wage in these stores is over $7 now- and the retailers don't leave. In the three years until this law takes effect, perhaps the wage would naturally rise to $10. But in a city that starves for good jobs and good retail, why single out places that provide both? The conventional wisdon is that Wal-Mart and Target pay below the prevailing wage for worse jobs. Maybe that's true in SmallTown Rustbelt, USA, where the Wal Mart replaces the union manufacturing jobs (that took off for the cheap labor of the third world), but not in urban areas. I do a lot of driving around in the city- and I'll bet dollars to donuts that these places up and down Halsted and Western aren't paying $13 an hour. I wonder if all the aldermen pay everyone who works for them $13 an hour?


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