Out of Control Policy Blog

Want to help poor workers?

Stop blocking Wal-Mart.

An effort to boost the minimum wage faded in Congress, but the earth's most evil entity moved ahead with its own pay hike:

    Wal-Mart Stores is raising starting pay at about a third of its nearly 4,000 U.S. stores by an average 6 percent and introducing wage caps for the first time on each type of job in all stores, the company said Monday.

That's what happens when you have to compete for labor:

    The nation's largest private employer said the changes at its U.S. stores would help it remain competitive with other retailers and meet a need for workers and managers as it continues to expand.

WM spokesman John Simley says the changes help in two ways:

    Higher starting pay makes Wal-Mart more attractive to new workers, and the wage caps give employees an incentive to work for promotions if they want to make more money.

WM's current average full-time hourly wage is $10.11, well above the federal minimum wage of $5.15 and higher than any of the states' minimum wages. Yes by comparing average wages to minimum wages, we're not making a direct apples-to-apples comparison.

But let's also remember that, no matter the impression that Oprah gives, after a year on the job, the vast majority of minimum wage earners have gained enough skills and experience to command more than the minimum wage.

It's a process that posturing politicians breeze over, but many low-skilled workers understand it.

Melvin Brown applied for work at a Wal-Mart in Oakland. He says: "You start low and aim high. First you gotta get your foot in the door."

BTW, some explanation for why figures for WM's starting wages are harder to come by:

    The retailer did not specify the new starting rates or give examples for the new pay caps. Simley said the numbers vary too much in local markets across the country to provide an accurate average figure.

Article here.

Related: Thomas Sowell sees a glimmer of hope.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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