Associated Press (AP): $15 wage becoming a norm as employers struggle to fill jobs

By Christopher Rugaber
Associated Press (AP), July 27, 2021

... It is hardly the official federal minimum wage — at $7.25, that level hasn’t been raised since 2009 — but for many lower-skilled workers, $15 an hour has increasingly become a reality. ...

The beneficiaries are people like Maggie Himmel, who started working at the Flowers for Dreams flower shop in Milwaukee last fall for $12.50 an hour. In January, the company raised its minimum wage to $15.

The higher pay allowed Himmel, 22, to move into her own apartment after sharing living space with her sister. She is earning more than she did before the pandemic, when she worked part time at a flower shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for about $11 an hour. ...

Steven Dyme, the owner of Flowers for Dreams, said the $15 minimum made it much easier for him to staff up once the economy reopened this spring and demand for flowers, particularly for weddings, soared.

Dyme, whose company has four locations — one in Chicago, one in Milwaukee and two in Detroit — says he’s fully staffed, with 80 full- and part-time workers.

At $15 an hour, he said, “I saw a markedly different picture in how fast we could recruit and in the experience level of workers.” ...

The National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for low-income workers, calculates that 26 million people, or about 16% of workers, have received higher pay because of all the state and local minimum wage increases since 2012, though often to less than $15 an hour. ...

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Copyright 2021 AP

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