King Canute is gonna be so jealous of my idea:
With more than 15 million workers in the sector, and leverage over workplace standards across the supply chain, retail wields enormous influence on Americans’ standard of living and the nation’s economic outlook. It connects producers and consumers, workers and jobs, and local social and economic development to the larger US economy. And over the next decade, retail will be the second largest source of new jobs in the United States.1
Given the vital role retail plays in our economy, the question of whether employees in the sector are compensated at a level that promotes American prosperity is of national importance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical retail sales person earns just $21,000 per year. Cashiers earn even less, bringing home an annual income of just $18,500.2
The continued dominance of low wages in this sector weakens our nation’s capacity to boost living standards and economic growth. Retail’s low-wage employment means that even Americans who work full-time fail to make ends meet, and growth slows because too few families have enough remaining in each paycheck to contribute to the broader economy.
This study assumes a new wage floor for the lowest-paid retail workers equivalent to $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round retail worker at the nation’s largest retail companies—those employing at least 1,000 workers. For the typical worker earning less than this threshold, the new floor would mean a 27 percent pay raise. Including both the direct effects of the wage raise and spillover effects, the new floor will impact more than 5 million retail workers and their families.
More than 700,000 Americans would be lifted out of poverty, and more than 1.5 million retail workers and their families would move up from in or near poverty.
The economy would grow and 100,000 or more new jobs would be created.Families living in or near poverty spend close to 100 percent of their income just to meet their basic needs, so when they receive an extra dollar in pay, they spend it on goods or services that were out of reach before. This ongoing unmet need makes low-income households more likely to spend new earnings immediately – channeling any addition to their income right back into the economy, creating growth and jobs. This “multiplier effect” means that a higher wage standard for retail workers will also generate new jobs.
Increased purchasing power of low-wage workers would generate $4 to $5 billion in additional annual sales for the sector. Much of the increased consumer spending by low-wage workers after the raise will return to the very firms that offered the raise.
I dunno, $12 hour seems kinda chincy. Why not $25?
But wait! There’s more!:
The term “McJob” has come to epitomize all that’s wrong with the low-wage service industry jobs that are growing part of the U.S economy. “It beats flipping burgers,” the cliché goes, because no matter what your job might be, it’s assumed to be better than working in a fast-food restaurant.
Today in New York City, though, hundreds of workers at dozens of fast-food chain stores are walking out on strike, demanding better of those jobs. At McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, and Domino’s Pizza locations, workers have been organizing, and today they launch their campaign. They want a raise, to $15-an-hour from their current near-minimum wage pay, and recognition for their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee.
Wages in the fast-food industry have stayed low for two basic reasons. First, many are low-skill service jobs in an efficient assembly where workers are easily replaced and don’t require much education. Second, there is a large supply of people who are willing to make cheap burgers at a low wage. It is easy to look at this scenario and conclude, “well, economics determines prices and wages, and that’s that.” But the full story is more complicated. Cheap fast food and their cheap workers impose a cost on the country in the form of food stamps, welfare through the tax code, and social safety net programs. This is a place for government to intervene — and for corporations to sacrifice some of their profits — by raising wages to a livable level.
“We’re paying a few cents less for a hamburger and fries which aren’t very good for you, but we end up paying large sums through social safety net programs,” labor economist Mark Price said. “There’s definitely a role for public policy to help workers who are low income, but there’s no reason that the cost of goods in this industry shouldn’t reflect the actual cost of living.”
This is so simple I don’t know why anyone never thought of it before – let’s raise the minimum wage to $50 an hour for everybody!
Think of how great that would be. Everybody would make enough to pay Obamacare premiums, repay their student loans, the tax revenues would wipe out the national debt, and we would all be making over $100,000 a year!
Instant prosperity for everyone!!!
Sometimes I’m so smart I even amaze myself.
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