Amid the many complications that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet another is the apparent labor shortage. But as it turns it, the shortage may not be a shortage of workers but instead a shortage of workers willing to return to the status quo. After all, with many people still unvaccinated, especially the young children of those workers, a return to normalcy may not be possible. At least, that is, not a version of normalcy where hourly workers are willing to accept wages they feel are wholly inadequate.
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Charisse Jones, economic opportunity reporter with USA Today, says, “You have a lot of low-wage workers who left or lost jobs, and they’re saying they want something better. They want high wages, they want more protections, they want better benefits, so they’re not just taking any old thing that comes along.”
Big companies are taking notice and many of them are raising wages in an effort to get people back to work. This gallery will highlight some of the most notable companies giving workers a raise in 2021.
Last updated: Oct. 13, 2021
Bank of America
The banking industry isn’t often the target of wage battles, but wages in banking aren’t always much higher than sectors like retail and food. For example, Glassdoor estimates that the average wage for bank tellers at Chase Bank is $14 per hour and $15 per hour at U.S. Bank.
For its part, Bank of America is addressing wages with its announcement in October 2021 it would increase its minimum hourly wage to $21. The press release also says minimum wages will increase to $25 per hour by 2025.
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Many consumers love Costco for a number of reasons, from its cheap gas to bulk goods to endless free samples. But Costco wants to be a great place to work, too. In the first half of 2021, it was announced the retailer would raise its minimum starting pay to $16 per hour. In addition, the average hourly pay for hourly workers is $24 per hour at Costco.
Unfortunately, Costco also said it would end its hazard pay of an extra $2 per hour that was introduced at the start of the pandemic.
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Chipotle is known for its burritos and its irresistible queso and guacamole, but it also wants to be irresistible to potential employees. In May, the company said it would raise its average minimum wage to $15 per hour by the end of June. Note that this is an average of $15 per hour and not a minimum; Chipotle said the change would result in hourly workers making between $11 and $18 per hour. While $11 per hour is much less impressive than $15, it is a step in the right direction and shows the company wants to improve for its workers.
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CVS Health is also raising wages as it struggles to attract enough workers amid the pandemic. In August of 2021, the pharmacy chain announced it would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour. However, the change will not go into effect immediately for CVS; it is effective July 2022. It also noted that 65% of hourly employees already make more than $15 per hour. The company said that this would amount to a 60% increase in minimum enterprise hour wage.
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Most people consider “flipping burgers” to be among the lowest-paid work there is. And while McDonald’s isn’t raising its minimum wage to $15 for all workers, it did announce an increase at company-owned restaurants in May. It said it would increase wages for its 36,500 employees by an average of 10%. The range for entry-level crew will be $11 to $17 per hour and shift managers will earn at least $15 to $20 per hour. Average hourly wages should reach $15 overall by 2024.
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Under Armour has made a name for itself with the iconic “UA” logo, and now the company is stepping into the minimum wage ring. The sports equipment company announced in May 2021 that its minimum wage would increase from a $10 to a minimum of $15 per hour. The change would go into effect June 6 and, as it noted, represents a 50% increase for those earning the minimum wage there. It also said that 90% of its 8,000 employees would see an increase in their wages.
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One of the largest retailers in the country, Walmart is often the target of those fighting for higher wages. As a result, Walmart has risen to the occasion by raising its wages several times over the past year. In fact, In September 2021, it announced it would give all 565,000 of its U.S. workers a raise of at least $1. This was the third wage hike Walmart made in 2021, bringing its average wage for hourly workers to $16.40. Reuters notes that this compares favorably to a mean hourly wage of $14.87 for retail salespeople.