Communities downstate would see a massive shift in their economy. Les O’Dell, executive Director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, says it would shutter businesses and cost countless jobs since the cost of living is so much lower downstate.

“Our business owners simply cannot afford $15 an hour. They would just eliminate positions to make up for the higher cost of the employees that they still have,” he said. “People from Chicago don’t understand that the cost of living is so much lower in Southern Illinois that our local economy cannot afford entry-level workers at $15 an hour.”

Federal wage data from 2014 shows that more than half of the workers in Carbondale make less than $15 an hour.

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