November, 2012

Retail’s Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy

From Demos.org

With more than 15 million workers in 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.

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.

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.

A Dime a Day: The Impact of the Miller/Harkin Minimum Wage Proposal on the Price of Food

A Dime a Day: The Impact of the Miller/Harkin Minimum Wage Proposal on the Price of Food

By:
The Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley and The Food Chain Workers Alliance & The Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC-United)

Research and Writing:
Chris Benner, Associate Professor, Center for Regional Change, University of California, Davis Saru Jayaraman, Director, Food Labor
Research Center, University of California, Berkeley