Retail Pay: Giving America a Raise
The TJX Companies Inc., parent of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods stores, is the latest retailer to announce a boost in pay for its U.S. workers. The company said that it will increase pay to at least $9 an hour starting in June of this year. It is estimated that The TJX Companies’ current hourly pay is at about $8.24. In addition to higher starting wages, the company, which has 191,000 employees, said that it plans to pay all workers who have worked at its stores for more than six months at least $10 per hour by 2016.
TJX Companies’ announcement came a week after Walmart said it would increase starting wages for its U.S. employees to at least $9 per hour by April and by at least $10 by February 2016. Top apparel chain Gap Inc. was first to raise hourly employee pay. The company announced in February of last year that it would set $9 as the minimum hourly rate at its Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores and then establish a minimum of $10 the following year.
The retail industry supports one in every four U.S. jobs, representing about 42 million workers. This explains why employee pay has been a hot topic among large retailers and lawmakers. President Obama is endorsing a bill in Congress that includes a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Most retail workers already make more than the federal minimum wage but not much more. Still, the industry has mostly shunned the idea of higher wages. The National Retail Federation, which represents some of the nation’s largest retailers, is fighting President Obama’s proposal, saying the financial burden could force them to raise prices or reduce workforce.