At least one CEO at a big retail company wants to see the minimum wage increased. In fact, he’d like the minimum wage to go even higher than President Obama has proposed.
Costco CEO Craig Jelinek said on Tuesday that he supports increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation. The plan proposed by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union would also index the minimum wage, but initially raise it to $9 an hour.
The discount retailer CEO said in a statement that his company pays a starting wage of $11.50 across the country and is “still able to keep our overhead costs low.”
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Had it kept up with inflation since its 1968 peak, it would now be $10.58. A minimum wage that had kept up with both inflation and increasing productivity would now be worth $21.72 an hour.
Costco is known as a big box retail store with unusually good working conditions and wages. New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse has described it as the “anti-Walmart,” due in part to its relatively high wages and low turnover. In a November 29 interview with Greenhouse regarding Costco’s labor practices, The Ed Show’s Ed Schultz said, “This is how you treat workers.”
Comparatively, Walmart’s starting wages can be as low as $8 an hour, with annual increases of as little as 20 or 40 cents. For someone working 40 hours a week without any vacation time that amounts to $16,640 a year.
In late November, researchers at Demos argued that raising the retail industry’s wage floor to $25,000 a year would “impact more than 5 million retail workers,” and “lift 734,000 people out of poverty” while raising the cost of retail goods by only a few cents.