Yesterday, Suburban Cook County followed Chicago’s example and voted to raise the minimum wage to – over time – $13.00 an hour for non-tipped workers. The current wage is set at the state level, $8.25, and the first increase will be to $10.00 next July. The current minimum wage for the City of Chicago is $10.50.
By comparison, Seattle is at $13.00, headed to $15, but the Federal minimum wage is still $7.25/hour (since 2009). The disparity comes from cost of living differences in different parts of the country, and of course, politics.
A better way to gauge the appropriate minimum wage might be to use Amy Glasmeier’s Living Wage Calculator, hosted at MIT. It uses cost of living data at the county level to calculate a “living wage” for folks working full time under different circumstances: Adult, Adult with 1 Child, 2 Adults (1 Working) & 1 Child, etc. For example, in Cook County, the Living Wage for a single adult is $12.19 (compare that to the current $8.25).