Looking for New Options in Higher Minimum Wages

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Though President Biden has aspirations and plans to get an increase to the federal minimum wage from that of 7.25 an hour to 15 dollars an hour, it doesn’t look like it will be an easy fight for him to win, given that it already had to be sacrificed in the Senate in order for his 1.9 trillion dollar relief package for the pandemic to pass. Despite how you may feel about the prospect of a minimum wage increase, there is a fight that is to be had in the future that will determine if a change is to happen or not, and in the meantime, it looks like many different stores are going the extra mile before the government will. 

The most recent example and the one that is making the most headlines is Costco’s plans. They stated on the 25th of February that in the week of the 28th, they will be raising the minimum wage across all their stores and their entire franchise to be at least 16 dollars an hour. This is a huge step forward for the fight for a higher minimum wage, especially in the world of cashiers, which is one of the most common jobs for student workers and in the American labor force in general. Costco is a premier supermarket chain, and in comparison to others of its industry, it’s currently leading the way. Target stands to have a 15 dollar minimum wage, which is the baseline for Biden’s plan, followed by Publix and Walmart. The interesting thing about the latter of those two stores, is that Walmart has made plans and carried about wage increases up to 15 dollars an hour, yet for the large portion of its workforce, no change has occurred in wages. 

For a more local look at things, take a look at Harris Teeter, which is extremely close to Green Hope. Harris Teeter as it stands has an average of a 9 dollar per hour wage for its cashiers, which is lower than that of Walmart(which sits just as close to Green Hope). While by no means that point out a clear better employment option, due to there being many more variables to considering a job and the beneficial factors, it’s interesting to compare the two given the size difference in locations. Harris Teeter has 230 stores across 7 states and D.C, while Walmart has nearly 5,000 stores in the U.S. alone. This brings up an interesting reason and often argued viewpoint as to why the minimum wage shouldn’t be increased. The most commonly given reason is that local businesses would not be able to handle the wage increase and still be able to stay open. While Harris Teeter is in no way a local business, in a larger sense it represents a local business in comparison to what Walmart is as an industry giant. Harris Teeter is much larger than any local business and has a 9 dollar minimum wage. This leaves a question as to if local businesses, which may be stuck on 7.25 an hour, could survive an increase to the 15 dollar minimum wage. Some say that it would be a death sentence, while others argue that prices would increase to cover that cost of the business. 

It’s an interesting dynamic, but through the lens of a student, or any student that could want to work, these plans that supermarkets have for growth seem only beneficial, given that more money almost always means more opportunity and less stress, something students could always use. Whether you see it as a good or bad sign, the number of companies moving towards that 15 dollar line rather than sticking to the lower end of 7.25 signals a shift in the labor force that will either lead to a more valued employee or a replacement of a human cashier to the touch screens that have become popular at restaurants or the self-checkout lines seen in every supermarket. Time and our government’s decisions will tell us whether or not this drastic shift will occur.