Something every liberal art’s student has nightmares about: working at a low end wage job. But we live in exciting times. The media has exploded the past couple of weeks with news of a major retailer, Gap Inc., announcing they are going to raise their company minimum wage to $10 by next year.
“To us, this is not a political issue,” Gap chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy said in a statement. “Our decision to invest in frontline employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.”
Gap Inc. owns Banana Republic, Old Navy. The initiative will increase wages for all companies under the Gap umbrella.
Kayla Evens, first year, works at Banana Republic. “They said that they want to have all the wages increase by 2016, but I was hired in mid- January, so my wage will actually increase to $10 an hour in sixth months, around like July. It’s sooner for the people who are already working there.”
“I’m [currently] making $8.25 an hour so already above minimum wage.” Evens continued. “I think it’s a great idea because I know a lot of people [who work there], that’s either their only job or that’s on top of other jobs that their working so [it’s] going to help them a lot. I mean for me as a student, it’s just extra income.”
Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. There are 20 states that have a minimum wage higher than the federal, the highest are Washington, $9.32 and Oregon, $9.10. Recently individual cities and businesses have taken it upon themselves to increase the minimum to $10 or more.
President Obama signed an executive order last month to raise the minimum wage for federal employees to $10.10 an hour. Their wage increases will go into effect next year. Obama is also pushing voters across the nation to support a congressional bill to increase federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Costco is a huge proponent of raising the federal minimum wage. The company has had their own starting hourly wage above the federal minimum for years.
“At Costco, we know that paying employees good wages makes good sense for business,” Costco CEO and President Craig Jelinek said in a statement. “We pay a starting hourly wage of $11.50 in all states where we do business, and we are still able to keep our overhead costs low.”
“An important reason for the success of Costco’s business model is the attraction and retention of great employees,” Jelinek continued. “Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty. We support efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.”
Florida’s minimum wage is higher than the federal but not by much, at $7.93 an hour.
Seattle-Tacoma in Washington beats the rest of the country. They have the highest minimum wage at $15 an hour.
Arguments against raising the minimum wage say that many workers will lose their jobs and it will hurt the economy while proponents argue that benefits will outweigh any negative effects.
As to how the wage increase will help a New College student “I’ll be able to not have to stress as much about paying for textbooks. I feel like my time will be better spent. I’m excited!” Evens said. “It feels good to know that I’m making enough that it will help me in the long run. I feel satisfactorily compensated for my time.”