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NRA sees reason for alarm in Chicago wage push

The National Restaurant Association is combating efforts to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 with research showing the hike would backfire into 11,600 lost jobs and $72 million in additional tax fees to pay government workers at the higher rate.

Raising the statewide wage to that level, the research contends, would take a toll of 80,000 lost jobs and $547 million in additional tax revenues to pay government employees.

The study was released the day before Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was scheduled to convene a special session of the City Council to ramrod through a new $13 hourly minimum before the state passed a lower wage that would pre-empt any local mandate. The statehouse is entertaining a wage in the $11 range.

The mayor has been straightforward about wanting to beat the legislature, which is itself in a race of sorts. Outgoing Governor Pat Quinn favors an increase in the minimum wage and made it an issue in his unsuccessful campaign for re-election. He would like to push an $11 hike through the legislature before he steps down.

His successor, businessman Bruce Rauner, has waffled on the minimum wage, saying at one point that he’d like it to be abolished altogether. He later tempered his comments and pledged to raise the pay floor, but not as dramatically as Quinn advised.

The restaurant industry favors a statewide wage that would pre-empt local requirements and thereby avert a patchwork of mandates.

The report issued yesterday was conducted by labor economist David McPherson of Trinity University. It was jointly released by the NRA and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. 

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