Raising Wages Helps Companies, Workers and the Economy

Reggie Fullwood
Reggie Fullwood 2
Reggie Fullwood 

Last month Walmart announced that they would be increasing starting wage rates for hourly employees in the U.S. to $11 per hour after passage of the Republican tax law.

Great news to the company’s thousands of employees because they also announced the expansion of maternity and parental leave benefits, and that megastore would be providing a one-time cash bonus for eligible employees of as much as $1,000.

Sounds great right? Well, think about it from the perspective of a single mom with two kids. That same $11 an hour before taxes is $440 a week and $1,760 a month. Throw in taxes and let’s just say that this person is making $1,400 a month. Realistically, who can live comfortably off of that amount once you consider housing, transportation, food, childcare, etc.?

What is your point Fullwood? My point is that I am not impressed with Walmart’s announcement because when you consider the billions of dollars that the megastore giant makes annually, the company should be ashamed that their wages were so low.
And while I have the floor, what I’m even more bothered by is the lack emphasis and strong corporate culture related to customer service.
But Walmart is just the tip of the iceberg – how many of you know what the minimum wage is in your state or even our country? For those who are unaware, hold on to your seats because you are about to be shocked.

America is the land of opportunity and a land that any man can achieve greatly through hard work and persistence. But even in our great country, the income gap between the rich and poor is exceptionally large and is growing.

One way to deal with that inequality is to focus on increasing wages for lower tier workers or essentially raising the minimum wage. And while my conservative friends will want to chop my head off – my moderate to sensible friends will at least hear me out.
Back to Walmart. Let’s not underrate the fact that one of the largest corporations in America was still paying a starting salary of $9 an hour up until last month.

Some 25 years ago while in high school, I was a bag boy at the local Winn Dixie. My best friend and I were happy to make $5.50 an hour. We still lived with our parents, and basically needed money for clothes, shoes, an occasional date and other miscellaneous things.

That is why it’s so amazing when you think about the fact that the federal minimum wage is still only $7.25 an hour, and it has been that amount since 2009. Again, I was making $5.50 over 20 years ago – so clearly that’s not much progress.

I cannot think of one single job that should be paying employees a minimum wage. It’s absolutely ludicrous that there are people being paid such a low hourly rate.

I don’t care if you work in the fast food industry, janitorial services, digging ditches or watching paint dry – surely our American corporations and small businesses can afford to pay their employees a true “living wage.”

Former Federal Chief Alan Greenspan once said, “I consider income inequality the most dangerous part of what’s going on in the United States.”
We live in the greatest country in the world – a job should be a bridge out of poverty, an opportunity to a make a living from the work or services you provide. But for minimum wage workers, especially those with families, it is not.

With the federal minimum wage being so low, more and more states have opted to implement their own, higher rates that local employers must observe.

This is just Reggie’s opinion, but I think that minimum wage should be at least $10 to $11 an hour. And don’t be mistaken, I am not some crazy liberal – I am a small business owner/proponent so I fully understand the value of having to make payroll. My hope is that by changing the minimum wage bar it will have a ripple effect and cause public and private sector companies to adjust their low wage salaries accordingly.

And for those who think that raising the minimum wage is bad for the economy – that’s nonsense. A number of researchers have found that modestly higher minimum wages can raise incomes for low-wage workers without reducing the number of jobs in the area.

“A minimum wage increase makes straightforward economic sense. It means more money in the hands of people who are going to spend it. Low minimum wages do NOT help small business,” said Lew Prince, Managing Partner, Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis, MO.

He adds, “Small business owners know that keeping workers is easier and cheaper than finding and training new workers. And small business owners know that the longer an employee stays with you — the more they know about your business and your customers, and the higher their productivity.”
By increasing minimum wage, we could put additional money into the hands of an estimated 10-12 million low-wage workers, which would give the economy a real boost. And there will be some states that “opt out” and decide that having a minimum wage is not good policy, I am no economist, but I can assure you that good companies don’t mind paying good decent wages.

In fact, Jim Sinegal, the CEO of Costco said, “Paying your employees well is not only the right thing to do but it makes for good business.” By the way, the new Costco opening up on Jacksonville’s Westside on Collins Road is paying a starting salary of $13 an hour.
Case closed.
Signing off from Costco,
Reggie Fullwood

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