A nice Big Box of nice time for you all this Monday: Target stores announced today they’ll be raising their minimum wage to $11 an hour starting in October, with a gradual increase in starting wages to $15/hour by 2020. Turns out that Target and Walmart have been in a bit of a wage war for a little while now:
Target quietly raised entry-level hourly wages to $10 last year, from $9 from the previous year, following initiatives by Wal-Mart and others to hike wages in a fiercely competitive marketplace. But Target’s hike to $15 per hour far exceeds not only the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour but the hourly base pay at Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, and plenty of its other retail peers whose minimum hourly pay now hovers around $10.
Speculation in retail world is that Target’s move may lead other big-box retailers to raise wages as well as the labor market tightens and as minimum-wage workers demand decent wages, even though Congress is currently controlled by folks who think a “livable wage” is terrible, because why should anyone actually be able to survive off having only one job?
The Associated Press notes that Target’s move is part of an overall strategy by Target to revamp its business for more effective competition against online sales, which will include remodeling stores, expanding its own online presence, as well as getting and keeping sales staff who can make the in-store shopping experience more helpy:
As shoppers get more mobile-savvy, retailers are seeking sales staff who are more skilled at customer service and in technology, such as using iPads to check out inventory. But with the unemployment rate near a 16-year low, the most desirable retail workers feel more confident in hopping from job to job.
So hey, here’s hoping that trend starts affecting other industries that depend on lower-wage workers as well! In response to Target’s announcement, an emailed statement from Minneapolis McDonald’s worker and Fight for $15 leader Steven Suffridge said:
When 200 New York City fast-food workers walked off the job five years ago demanding $15/hour and union rights, nobody gave them a shot. But by striking, marching, and speaking out, our movement spread to every corner of the country and convinced everyone from politicians to voters to big corporations that $15/hour is the absolute minimum people need to support their families. Because of the courage of cooks, cashiers and others in the Fight for $15, 22 million Americans have won raises, including 10 million of us who are on our way to $15/hour. With today’s decision by Target to pay workers at least $15/hour, our momentum is unstoppable. If Target can pay $15/hour, companies like McDonald’s can and should too. They should follow Target’s lead instead of paying workers so little they have to rely on public assistance to get by.
Target’s been having better sales reports following store renovations, and the new $11/hour wage will apply not only to the chain’s fulltime staff, but will also be paid to seasonal employees who hire on for the fall/holiday sales season.
Walmart has been raising its starting wages as well — though of course it’s as anti-labor as ever — from $9/hour to $10 in 2016, and the AP reports that the stores have actually seen some benefits from having slightly less desperate employees:
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has seen lower turnover among workers and has gotten much better scores by customers for its service. Wal-Mart’s namesake U.S. division reported a 1.8% increase in revenue at stores opened at least a year during its fiscal second quarter, marking the 12th straight period of gains.
Gosh, any downside to that, at all?
Wal-Mart’s wage investments, however, did take a big bite out of profits.
Hmmm… don’t be looking for an end anytime soon to the annual Walmart holiday canned food drive for Walmart employees, then.