Yesterday Walmart announced that it will raise its minimum wage to $9 this April and to $10 within a year. There was no mention that the retail giant needed to lay off workers to afford this move. No talk of reducing the hours of employees to raise the pay of 40% of its workers. No mumbling about needing to increase prices.
None of the predictions of economic gloom and doom have been uttered concerning Walmart pushing its minimum pay to almost the $10.10 the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce has endorsed. Last September when we made our announcement of support for the national effort to raise the minimum wage, I chided Walmart for not stepping up to help its employees and local economies. The former will spend every penny of their additional income and the latter will benefit.
So let me congratulate Walmart for its decision. About 27,000 South Carolinians working for the retailer will get a raise. Walmart will easily absorb any incremental costs but my guess is that the retailer will have the cost of raises offset by lower turnover which will mean less training costs, more efficient employees and higher worker morale that will be appreciated by customers.
South Carolina will still have far too many of our citizens earning less than $10.00 an hour and thus not being able to contribute to growing our local small business economies. But Walmart will be knocking that 300,000 number down by 9% in one year. That is a great start. Now let’s get Target to do the same and then get our hospitality sector to step up also.