Wall Street Journal: Many Businesses Support a Minimum-Wage Increase

By Eric Morath and Heather Haddon
Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2021

A debate to raise the federal minimum wage has tied Congress in knots, but many large employers and business groups wouldn’t mind an increase. ...

Costco Chief Executive Craig Jelinek told Congress at a hearing last week that the retailer was raising starting pay to $16 an hour and that hourly employees are paid an average of $24 an hour. Costco has about 180,000 full-time and part-time U.S. employees.

“This isn’t altruism,” Mr. Jelinek said. “It helps in the long run by minimizing turnover, maximizing employee productivity, commitment and loyalty.” Under questioning from senators at the hearing, Mr. Jelinek said “wages usually don’t put people out of business. How you run your business will put you out of business.” He said he didn’t support a specific legislative proposal.

Amazon supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The e-commerce company, with warehouses across the country, raised its starting wage to $15 an hour in 2018. ...

Rebecca Hamilton, co-chief executive of W.S. Badger Co., a New Hampshire maker of skin-care products with about 90 employees, is among the business owners advocating for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. She said Badger and local businesses studied what a living wage in the mostly rural community would be, and determined it was $15 an hour.

That is now the starting wage for jobs at Badger, including packing and shipping jobs, and entry-level manufacturing positions. New Hampshire follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Ms. Hamilton said she thinks her state’s low minimum wage causes young people to leave New Hampshire, making it harder for companies ... to find needed employees.

“The cost of living here is relatively low,” she said. “I can’t imagine there’s anywhere in the country where $7.25 an hour would be sufficient.”

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Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company

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