The Skyrocketing Cost of Doing Business In Chicago

With Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats wanting to up the minimum wage from $8.25 to at least $10 statewide in Illinois, it seems Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to be first in Chicago and in a big way.

If the state were to act first, it “might pre-empt municipalities from imposing higher minimums.” And Emanuel’s number is huge.

A task force appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel studied the issue and recommended a $13-an-hour minimum wage phased in by 2018. Emanuel’s proposal to the council would extend the deadline by a year to 2019.

It may sound good on paper and Emanuel promising un-skilled Chicago workers significantly higher wages may get the to turn out at the polls, but it doesn’t take into account how difficult it is already to run a basic business in the Windy City.

This, on top of a few inconvenient facts: Businesses in Illinois and Chicago already pay higher worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance costs than do their competitors in Indiana or Wisconsin. Commercial and industrial property owners in Cook County are assessed at a higher property tax rate than are residential property owners — and you can reliably expect City Hall’s own pension costs to push those taxes higher. 

And Chicago businesses face a costly regulatory environment. Just ask entrepreneur Carey Cooper, who has lobbied against a higher minimum wage. To open a restaurant recently in River North, he needed aldermanic approval; a building permit; signage and awning approval; parking, loading and towing approval; a sidewalk permit; and a city public health inspection and approval. And a liquor license. There was more red tape ensnarling Cooper, but you get the gist. 

 Now the city will be telling Cooper how much to pay his employees.

At some point, people need to ask themselves, what good is a sky-high minimum wage when the bulk of businesses have fled the city taking their jobs along with them. Chicago has to give hand-outs to business to start and or stay there as it is. In effect, it simply a Ponzi scheme at the expense of the state’s taxpayers and if they ever opt to turn off the spigot, there will be no where for Chicago’s local economy to go but down.


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