Walmart, the largest employer in America, announced yesterday that they would raise company wide wages to a minimum of $10 an hour in 2016 for 500,000 workers. This boost can be attributed to many factors: a tightening job market, lower unemployment, higher turnover. However, Walmart’s CEO has been very outspoken about his desire to improve the company’s labor practices. Our Movement has long advocated for equal and fair wages for workers, most recently helping to pass a minimum wage bill in Nebraska in November. To see such a large organization setting the precedent for increasing the minimum wage is encouraging, as it will put pressure on other large employers, such as McDonald’s and Target, to do the same.
At its current rate of $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage is worth about 23% less than it was worth in the late 1960s. Minimum wage workers, on average, make a mere $15,080 a year; not enough to live on or to be considered as a living wage. Since workers are not paid enough, workers have to turn to federal safety net programs since they’re paid too little at work to make ends meet on their own.