Skip to main content

Fighting for Working Families

Image of family walking in front of homes in West Garfield Park

Over the past eight years, Mayor Emanuel has made it a priority to generate jobs and growth in every part of Chicago and has fought to ensure that hard work pays off for all Chicagoans. The Emanuel Administration has raised the bar for families outside the workplace through innovative programs that ensure children of all backgrounds have access to free, high-quality educational options that provide a path to opportunity. The City of Chicago is now home to more private sector jobs per capita than any time in the past five decades, while poverty city-wide has declined for five straight years, hitting its lowest level in more than a decade. Furthermore, Chicago continues to experience record-low unemployment, which has declined by more than 60 percent since Mayor Emanuel took office in 2011.

  1. In 2014, City Council passed Mayor Emanuel’s ordinance to raise the minimum wage to $13.00 by July 2019, resulting in a 57 percent increase for minimum wage workers in the city over a five year period, at a time when the state’s minimum wage has remained flat. By the time the minimum wage reaches $13.00 this summer, the ordinance will have provided a wage increase for an estimated 410,000 workers and have generated an additional $860 million for the local economy.

  2. In June 2016, the City Council passed unanimously the Mayor’s pro-work and pro-family ordinance providing more than 460,000 workers with the opportunity to earn up to five days of paid leave per year to seek medical treatment and care, while representing a less than 0.7-1.5 percent increase in labor costs for employers. 

  3. During his first year in office, Mayor Emanuel implemented a uniform paid parental leave policy for non-represented city employees in order to modernize the City’s human resource policies and bring Chicago in line with standards from the private and public sectors.

  4. Mayor Emanuel charged the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to create an Office of Labor Standards to promote, administer and enforce Chicago’s labor laws. The new Office will process and investigate complaints, issuing fines and negotiating settlements as necessary, while also serving as an advocate for exploited employees by performing outreach, disseminating information and making recommendations on how to support Chicago workers.

  5. Through the Department of Family and Support Services, the Center for Economic Progress and Ladder Up, Mayor Emanuel launched Tax Prep Chicago, a program that allows Chicagoans to access free income tax return services at sites located throughout the city. Tax Prep Chicago has helped approximately 20,000 families and individuals receive nearly $30 million in tax refunds and credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, each year.

Read more about the Fighting for Working Families progress made over the last eight years.