Economic Development Committee members said Wednesday night they want to hold at least two public forums before acting on a proposal to establish a minimum wage ordinance for Evanston

Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) was among the panel members who balked at the idea of advancing the plan from Ald. Devon Reid (8th) to create a wage scale higher than that already imposed on local businesses by Cook County.

Harris said the city “tends to do it backwards,” first making a decision, and only then the businesses find out about it.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) said many businesses are struggling and feel they’ve been left out of the process.

Reid, who has proposed a raft of new regulations on businesses in his two years on the council, wore the same sweatshirt to the committee meeting that he wore at Monday night’s Council meeting — supporting the “One Fair Wage” organization.

Devon Reid.

That group seeks to eliminate lower minimum wages for tipped workers and to enact a $25 minimum wage by the 250th anniversary of the issuance of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

His proposed Evanston ordinance does not go that far — but creates a formula that would raise Evanston’s minimum wage to $17.08 by 2026, assuming the consumer price index continues to increase at an annual rate of at least 2.5%.

Evanston employers already are required to pay the highest of three different minimum wage rules imposed by different levels of government.

Year*IllinoisCook CountyChicago
(>20 employees)
Evanston (proposed)
(>50 employees)
2020$10.00$13.00$14.00(Same as county)
2021$11.00$13.00$15.00(Same as county)
2022$12.00$13.35$15.40(Same as county)
*State minimum wage changes on Jan. 1, others change, or are proposed to change, on July 1.
**Assuming CPI increase is >2.5%, increase is 2.5%. Cook and Chicago round up to nearest $0.05. Evanston proposal currently does not mention that.
***County uses state rate if it results in higher pay.

Those are the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 since 2009, the state minimum wage, at $13.00 this year, and the Cook County minimum, scheduled to rise to $13.70 on July 1.

The state minimum wage is scheduled to reach $15 an hour by 2025, but the legislature has not yet provided for any increases beyond that.

Cook County has a consumer-price-index based escalator clause that’s capped at a 2.5% increase, rounded up to the nearest five cents.

Evanston’s neighbor to the south, Chicago, has its own rules — which provide different wage minimums for large and small employers, a model Reid seeks to emulate in Evanston.

Most other communities in Cook County either follow the county’s rules or have opted out of the county ordinance to follow the state law.

A 2017 article from the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, which calls minimum wage rules “anti-competitive” and “job-killing” said more than 50 of the 132 municipalities in the county have opted out of the county ordinance.

A nationwide inventory of minimum wage laws maintained by the Labor Center at the University of California – Berkeley, indicates that no suburban communities in Cook County have imposed a higher minimum wage than than what’s required by the county ordinance.

The committee directed staff to schedule the planned forums at future dates yet to be determined.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. To paraphrase from the famous John Houston film of 1948,
    “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”

    “We don’t need no stinking forums, we just need a city that has common sense and judgment”

    And stop the unending, unrelenting launching of new rules and regs.
    From the movie……

    Dobbs: “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”

    Gold Hat: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

  2. “Harris said the city “tends to do it backwards,” first making a decision, and only then the businesses find out about it.”

    That’s an alder who gets it. Welcome to the 2nd ward, where things make sense.

  3. As a large employer with locations all over Cook and Dupage County – I support this. Employers want employees to work – well, that costs. There is no secret sauce to attracting entry level workers. Anyone in the low wage sector in Evanston can just go a few miles and work for more in Chicago. Yes, this will cost the businesses a wee bit more. But they can easily pass the expense to the customers since that’s what everyone does. It’s economics 101. Now – with that said, IL legislature passed some very employer unfriendly bills that are awaiting the Governors signature. I suggest Evanston council do its homework before passing more burdens to the Evanston businesses. Evanston is not a well run City despite its self praise and virtue signaling. Do your homework Evanston first before changing the rules of the game.

  4. I continue to be more and more impressed by Alderperson Harris and embarrassed by Reid, who is an uninformed menace.

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