Costco Goes Biden $1 Better

Chain says raising pay is good business
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2021 6:04 PM CST
Costco Goes Biden $1 Better
A shopper stands by a display of big-screen televisions in a Costco warehouse in Sheridan, Colo., last year.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Unaffected by whether an increase in the federal minimum wage ends up in the final coronavirus relief package or not—after making its starting pay $15 an hour in 2019— Costco has announced another increase. Starting next week, new employees will be paid $16 an hour, NPR reports. "I want to note this isn't altruism," the company's chief executive said Thursday. "At Costco we know that paying employees good wages ... makes sense for our business and constitutes a significant competitive advantage for us. It helps us in the long run by minimizing turnover and maximizing employee productivity." Craig Jelinek made the comments in testimony before Senate Budget Committee. President Biden wants the minimum wage lifted to $15 an hour; it's been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

Costco's starting pay will top that of Amazon, Target, and Best Buy, per CNN. Walmart announced last week that many workers involved in filling online orders will make more money, but the giant chain's starting pay for entry-level hires is still $11 an hour. About 90% of Costco's 180,000 employees in the US are hourly workers. One professor said Costco's announcement will increase pressure on its competitors to raise pay. Many big corporations have advocated raising the minimum wage, though a survey found a majority of small businesses opposed to setting it at $15. McDonald's no longer lobbies against increases. Under Biden's proposal, the minimum wage would increase gradually, not reaching $15 until 2025. Many states and cities already have their own increases on the way. (More minimum wage stories.)

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