During the primary 12 months of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, some 305,000 attire retail staff misplaced jobs, whereas cashiers and plenty of different retail retailer staff contended with wages under $15 an hour, and the federal minimal wage stayed stagnant for its eleventh straight 12 months.
As the retail business adapts to surging pandemic calls for for on-line ordering capabilities, dwelling deliveries and curbside pick-up providers, cities can set agendas to counter developments harming low-wage retail staff and native communities, argues a brand new report by the National League of Cities, a corporation of native authorities officers.
Some 64 % of retail staff don’t earn a residing wage to help a household of 4, and the median wage for cashiers final 12 months was $12.04 an hour, in response to the NLC report. While the federal minimal wage has stayed stagnant at $7.25 an hour since 2009, regardless of a worker-led push over the previous decade to boost these wages to no less than $15 an hour, many cities and states have additionally didn’t impact change. In reality, some 25 states have blocked cities and different native jurisdictions from elevating wages over the state or federal minimal, in response to the report.
“Raising the minimum wage is the first step in narrowing the pretty large gap between the value that retail workers provide to society, and unfortunately, the low wages they receive in return,” mentioned Tina Lee, senior analysis specialist on the NLC’s Center for City Solutions, at a press convention Thursday on the report.
While big-box and main retailers reported file income throughout the pandemic, they’ve additionally confronted extra public scrutiny over labor practices that staff and advocates declare have subjected staff to unsafe working circumstances with out further pay to compensate them for the dangers.
Seeking to shift that narrative, retailers together with Amazon, Target and Walmart have instituted raises or in any other case signaled their embrace of a $15-an-hour minimal wage or perks like signing and different bonuses. Amazon’s beginning minimal wage was set at $15 an hour two years earlier than the pandemic, whereas Target instituted a $15 minimal wage final 12 months. Walmart, although it has applied raises for some teams of staff over the previous 12 months, nonetheless pays as little as $11 an hour to staff in a lot of roles in components of the nation.
“I expect to see convergence — we’ve already seen more retailers adopting a long-term plan [for] $15-an-hour minimums,” mentioned Michael Mandel, chief financial strategist on the Progressive Policy Institute, at Thursday’s press convention. “I think we’re going through a period where workers are going to be less willing to accept such low wages.”
Mandel alluded to a current Washington Post report highlighting the departures of retail staff — roughly 649,000 staff stop in April — and argued that the shift bodes properly for the labor market.
“I think that’s good news — people have decided that they don’t want to work low wage jobs … and they think the job prospects are good enough to move,” he mentioned.
“And in the economics space, you look at quit rates as a positive — ‘quit’ means people are optimistic and think they can do better.”
As the retail business renegotiates its relationship to staff and prospects, cities and native officers ought to shepherd that reinvention by addressing wages and using public areas in ways in which prioritize the wants of native communities, NCL leaders added.
“Just as the retail industry faced disruption following the Great Recession, COVID-19 has been another major disruptor, accelerating the adoption of curbside pickup, underscoring the necessity of essential workers, and solidifying demand for experience-based retail and discount stores,” mentioned Brooks Rainwater, director of the National League of Cities’ Center for City Solutions.