American cities and states are waging pitched battles over how much the lowest-paid workers deserve to take home, and how much it takes just to get by.
It's a prolonged fight in most places, pitting business owners and corporate lobbyists against progressive activists and labor unions. Nationally, the minimum wage sits at $7.25, a figure agreed to in 2009; don't expect that to go changing again any time soon.
On Monday morning, Target Corp. announced it wasn't going to wait for the politicians to figure it out. The Minneapolis-based corporation will increase employee wages to $11.00 an hour across the board in October, with a plan to implement a $15.00 minimum for every worker by 2020.
That puts Target's pace ahead of all but the most economically progressive areas: Massachussetts and Washington both have an $11 minimum, and several major cities -- Seattle, San Francsico, Los Angeles, and New York -- have passed ordinances to gradually raise the local minimum to $15 an hour.
Minneapolis joined those cities this year, passing a plan to set the city's lowest wage at $15 by 2024... by which time Target's lowest-paid workers would have been collecting that amount for four years. Prior to Monday's announcement, Target's lowest entry-level pay was $10.00 an hour, a minimum pay it set in 2016.
Target operates 1,800-some stores across America and employs about 323,000 people, and its announcement says "thousands" of them will soon benefit from the move to $11.00 an hour, as will about 100,000 seasonal workers brought on for temporary gigs around the holidays.
Target CEO Brian Cornell says the chain store corporation "has a long history of investing in our team members," and the store is committed to "more meaningful pay" and "tools, training, and support our team needs to build their skills."
Like all other big brick-and-mortar retailers, Target is looking for ways to adapt to the era of internet shopping. (By now, a lot of people who work for Target don't work in a Target.) To that end, Monday's announcement could be viewed as a PR ploy to lure back a certain set of shoppers, whose expenses are sometimes politically or socially motivated.
If it means the people who make the least are making a little more, by all means, allow us to fall for this trick every time.
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