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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Minimum Wage Debate Intensifies On National Stage, Not So Much in Idaho

Posted By on Sun, Mar 1, 2015 at 9:46 AM

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A series of weekend reports indicates that Wal-Mart's recent decision to boost wages for thousands of its lowest paid employees will have a significant affect in the public and private sectors.

This week, Wal-Mart announced it would increase wages for nearly 500,000 of its employees to at least $9 an hour, $1.75 above the federal minimum wage. Soon thereafter, TJX Companies, Inc., which owns Marshalls and TJ Maxx, pledged to increase its minimum wage to $9 per hour in June and up to $10 per hour in 2016.

This morning, Boston Globe columnist Tom Keane wrote
"[Wal-Mart] hasn't suddenly gotten religion. It just wants to stay in business."  In Benchmark Reporter, Steve Goodstein writes Wal-Mart's decision will have "a ripple effect" on many industries and is "now one of the major talking points among other retail giants." And Target, which operates about 1,800 stores in the United States says it is under pressure. Its Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan told The Guardian, " We're all the time assessing the marketplace to determine competitive wages."

Meanwhile, the Idaho Legislature's debate over minimum wage may be over before it has even begun. A new bill, which proposes that Idaho's minimum wage be incrementally raised to $9.25 an hour, surfaced in the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee on Feb. 27. Committee chairman, Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie has already indicated he didn't anticipate any hearing on the matter. McKenzie later told the Associated Press he didn't see enough support among his Republican colleagues on the subject. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates nearly 30,000 Idahoans are employed at or below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
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