New Study Calls for $25,000 Retail Wage Floor

Via Huffington Post, Bob Herbert: for the rest of the story.

“In a rigorous new study, Retail’s Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy, Demos describes the broad benefits that would be gained if the nation’s largest retailers established a voluntary wage floor of $25,000 for full-time, year-round employees.

Such a move would lift millions of people out of poverty, bolster the American economy and strengthen the retailers’ own bottom line.

This would not be a heavy lift for the industry. Retail is booming and profitability reached a ten-year high in the first half of 2012. The largest retail firm, Walmart, earned nearly $16 billion in the last year alone. While the U.S. economy and millions of American families have been struggling, Walmart has seen its net sales grow by more than $70 billion since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

Retail employees, on the other hand, have been sinking in the quicksand of increased workloads and declining compensation. Productivity among retail workers rose by an average of 0.8 percent per year since 2008 while wages, on average, went down. America’s largest retailers, those employing 1,000 employees or more, can well afford to pay their employees a minimum of $12.25 an hour, which is the base that the proposed $25,000 floor would establish.

According to the Demos study, the cost of the wage increases to major retailers would be $20.8 billion, which amounts to about one percent of the sector’s $2.17 trillion in total annual sales. But the study also estimates that the increased purchasing power accruing to low-wage workers as a result of the pay raises would generate $4 billion to $5 billion in additional annual retail sales.
If the entire cost of the pay raises were passed on to consumers, shoppers would see an increase in retail prices of approximately one percent. What is more likely, however, is that just a portion of the increased cost would be passed on.”


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