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Minnesota will surpass Illinois, Michigan and South Dakota this week with the highest minimum wage in the Midwest.

The $9-per-hour wage taking effect Saturday is the second of a three-stage increase adopted last year. Next year, the wage will rise fifty cents and go up automatically with inflation in following years.

For now, this step gives The Gopher State the highest minimum wage of any state away from both coasts. The next closest wage in the region is South Dakota's $8.50 per hour, which is higher than Illinois's at $8.25.

IDES

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says May was the fifteenth month in a row that unemployment rates fell in every metro area in the state compared to a year ago.  Rates also fell in all of Illinois’s 102 counties. 

Department Director Jeff Mays noted that three metro areas in northeastern Illinois, including the Elgin area at 4.8 percent, Lake-Kenosha and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro areas, had returned to pre-recession unemployment rates.

Jennifer Brdlik / Elevated Care

Patients, growers, and business owners are waiting while Illinois continues the process of setting up its medical cannabis program. One northern Illinois native is in all three of those roles in Arizona, where medical marijuana has been legal for five years. 

Jennifer Brdlik is operations director for “Elevated Care” and “Aromatic Kitchens,” companies that produce cannabis-based foods and tinctures. She spoke with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens about why she got into the business and where she thinks it’s headed in Illinois.

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The poisoning death of a Highland Park couple draws more attention to the potential dangers of keyless auto ignitions.

Pasquale and Rina Fontanini were found dead last week. Their son, who is a local fire department lieutenant, says lethal levels of carbon monoxide were in the home after the couple left their car with a keyless ignition running in the garage.

Safety advocates say up to a dozen deaths nationwide occur because of such scenarios and want immediate action.

A dispute between airline Allegiant Air and its airport hub in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area should have no impact on its service to the Chicago Rockford International Airport.  That’s according to a spokeswoman for the airline.

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