The retail industry has been influenced by Walmart’s plans to raise wages for 500,000 hourly employees, starting at $9 per hour for its lowest paid workers. Shortly after the retail giant announced the wage increases, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and HomeGoods followed suit. And this week, Dollar General Corp. announced that it plans to increase hours for its employees in order to remain competitive.
While these recent developments are a step in the right direction, more must be done to improve standards in the retail industry. According to a study released by the National Employment Law Project, nine percent of adult workers in the retail industry were forced to work part-time last year, compared with five percent of all working adults. At least half of Walmart’s 1.4 million employees continue to struggle in part-time jobs and are not getting the hours they need to support themselves and their families. And despite Dollar General’s announcement about increasing hours, the company stopped short of increasing wages for its employees.
Wage increases without hours and hours without wage increases won’t improve the quality of jobs in this industry, which is an important employer of women and minorities. As our country’s largest private employer, Walmart’s business practices have an enormous impact on other retailers, as we have seen by the reaction to its wage increase announcement. And that’s why Walmart must lead the way in raising standards in this industry and publicly commit to increasing wages for all of its workers to at least $15 per hour and providing access to full-time, consistent hours.
The Retail Justice Alliance will continue to stand with members of OUR Walmart and all retail workers who are fighting for decent wages and hours so that workers in this growing sector can support their families.