Chicago's big box law

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Chicago may not be Wal-Mart's kind of town. The city council votes today on a "living wage" ordinance. It would require big stores like Wal-Mart to pay workers more than the state's minimum wage. Here's Stacey Vanek-Smith.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: Chicago would be the biggest city so far to pass a living wage ordinance, joining places like Santa Fe and San Francisco.

The law would require mega-retailers to pay workers at least $10 an hour by 2010. Advocates say at $6.50 an hour, Illinois' minimum wage isn't enough to live on in the Windy City and when huge stores like Wal-Mart pay those salaries, it can depress overall wages in the area.

Clark University labor expert Gary Chaison says these laws can hurt Wal-Mart, but not because of the money.

GARY CHAISON: I don't think Wal-Mart is that much concerned about the economics of a living wage-what they are concerned with is probably the embarrassment that's brought on.

Critics say these laws could drive employers out taking jobs and wages with them.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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