According to the Department of Labor, the retail sector continues to play a major role in adding jobs to the economy, but many of these jobs continue to be low-wage or part-time positions.
U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs in April, and 35,000 of those jobs were in the retail sector. Although the retail sector has added 327,000 jobs to the economy over the past 12 months, too many retail workers are struggling to survive in low-wage jobs with inconsistent hours and few benefits, and are relying on taxpayer funded programs like food stamps just to make ends meet.
As corporate profits continue to soar to astronomical rates and the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, more must be done to reverse the shift towards low-wage, part-time jobs. Raising the federal minimum wage is a good place to start.
Despite the fact that the real value of the current federal minimum wage is lower than it was in the 1960s, Senate Republicans failed to advance legislation last week to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour and index it to inflation. Raising the minimum wage would boost our economy and reduce workers’ reliance on public subsidies. In fact, a recent report by the Center for American Progress shows that raising the federal minimum wage to the proposed $10.10 per hour would reduce federal food stamp spending by $4.6 billion a year.
The current shift toward low-wage, part-time jobs is not the answer to our country’s economic problems, and the Retail Justice Alliance urges Senate Republicans to think about the many Americans who are trying to get by on low-wage jobs and raise the minimum wage.