CHAMPAIGN – Illinois' minimum wage goes up to $8.25 an hour on Thursday, giving the state the third-highest minimum wage in the nation.
Only Washington and Oregon will have higher minimums, at $8.55 and $8.40 an hour, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Connecticut and the District of Columbia have the same minimum wage as Illinois.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and most states have adopted that rate as their own. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal rate.
Thursday's increase comes as the result of legislation passed in 2006 that increased the minimum wage from $6.50 to $7.50 an hour in July 2007 and mandated 25-cent increases the next three years.
Under that law, the minimum wage for adults in Illinois will move from $8 to $8.25 on July 1, while the minimum wage for those under 18 will increase from $7.50 to $7.75.
However, new employees can be paid up to 50 cents less an hour during their first 90 days of employment.
Tipped employees can be paid 60 percent of the hourly minimum wage. As of Thursday, that will be $4.95 an hour for adults and $4.65 an hour for those under 18.
The increase in the minimum wage will generate an additional $520 a year for a full-time minimum wage worker. As a result, the worker's wages would rise to $17,160 a year. For comparison purposes, the federal poverty level for a one-person household is $10,830.
Many employers in the Champaign-Urbana area pay rates above the minimum wage and say they won't be affected by the increase. Matt Mayer of Ott's Drive-In in Rantoul, for instance, said non-tipped employees there already receive more than the minimum.
The Illinois Department of Labor encourages Illinois workers who don't receive at least the minimum wage to call the department's hotline, 1-800-478-3998, so the department can help them get wages they are owed.