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June 23, 2015

My name is Bob Olson and I own Olson & Associates, an insurance agency serving Illinois with offices in Lombard and Springfield. I’m also the State General Agent of American Income Life, which covers more than 2 million policyholders in Illinois and around the nation. Raising the minimum wage is an essential step in insuring a more healthy state economy.

With the current minimum wage, workers are paid so little it’s like getting a part-time wage for full-time work. They can’t adequately support their families or be a good customer base for Illinois businesses.

Raising the minimum wage is a kind of insurance for workers and businesses. A decent minimum wage means workers have more money to spend at local businesses buying the needed goods and services they could not afford before.

I know from experience that fair pay is good for the bottom line. When we invest in our employees, they are more invested in our business. Employees stay with us longer, which means less spending on hiring and training new workers. We see employees with less financial stress, longer-term commitment and knowledge, and more satisfied customers.

Raising the minimum wage is good for business, customers and our economy. Increasing the paychecks of workers in Illinois by raising the minimum wage will have a multiplying effect in businesses and communities throughout our state.

Raising the minimum wage will also mean a more level playing field for business. It’s simply wrong that some businesses pay wages that are so low their employees need public assistance and charity to survive. Poverty wages weaken consumer demand and undermine our tax base.

Every day I see hardworking men and women who want to provide for their families, but are struggling to make ends meet. Insuring for the future isn't an equation that works for them. The numbers just don't add up.

Raising the minimum wage would improve my ability to sell a much-needed product to these families who simply cannot afford to protect their loved ones. In our industry, workers who can't afford to buy our programs are the most vulnerable and need our product the most.

Most business people agree that raising the minimum wage makes good economic sense. Nationwide, 61 percent of small business owners with employees favored raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over two and a half years and then adjusting it annually to keep up with the cost of living, according to a scientific 2014 national poll. The poll was released by Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which I’m a member of, and the American Sustainable Business Council. The poll showed a majority of small business owners believe that a higher minimum wage would benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing employee turnover, increasing productivity and customer satisfaction, and helping the economy.

Senate Bill 2145 calls for gradually raising our state minimum wage from $8.25 now to $10 by 2017 and $11 by 2019. Businesses will benefit with a minimum wage of at least $11 by 2019. It’s time for Illinois to move forward.

Raising the minimum wage will help us restore the fading American Dream for both workers and businesses. It’s time for lawmakers to act.

Thank you.

Robert Olson
Olson & Associates
1910 S. Highland Ave
Lombard, IL 60410

1333 Wabash Ave, Suite 3
Springfield, IL 62704