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Costco ups wage to $14 amid growing global movements

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Domestic and foreign workers are expanding efforts to command a higher minimum wage, such as the "Fight For $15" movement in the United States. The federally-mandated minimum hourly wage is presently $7.25. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

By Susan McFarland, UPI

Hourly employees will soon earn more at Costco, the latest company to raise its minimum wage in an effort to hire and retain quality workers in a tight U.S. job market.

Costco said Thursday 130,000 employees will get a boost in pay to $14 or $14.50 per hour. Others will see raises between 25 and 50 cents per hour when the new rates take effect June 11.

Costco said the pay hike is owed to last year's federal tax overhaul, which lowered the corporate rate. Costco said it'll use the savings to invest in its workforce.

Data released Friday showed U.S. unemployment is at its lowest point in a half-century, something that forces large companies like Costco to compete for talent in industries with high turnover.

Costco's move is the latest in a years-long national campaign by workers and advocates to hike the minimum wage.

In Pennsylvania, workers called on lawmakers Thursday to boost the state's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which is equal to the federal minimum wage. A budget proposal calls for an increase to $12, followed by a $3 raise by 2024.

Opponents say such a bump could force employers to cut jobs.

A proposal in Michigan to raise the state's minimum wage and giving employees paid sick leave may get a vote this fall. Election officials are verifying petition signatures to get the issues on the ballot.

If approved, the effort would gradually increase Michigan's minimum wage to $10 in 2019 and $12 by 2022. It rose to $9.25 this year.

Some businesses, though, are not waiting on state mandates to raise the minimum wage.

The owner of one Chick-fil-A restaurant in Sacramento, Calif., has promised to pay a "living wage" of $17 or $18 per hour to his workers, beginning Monday -- up from the $12-$13 they receive now.

Owner Eric Mason said the idea is to hire workers who will stay at his restaurant, in an industry that had a 73 percent turnover rate in 2016, Labor statistics show.

Payscale reports the median hourly pay for fast-food employees in the United States is $8.26, which forces many to take on multiple jobs or rely on public assistance.

California's minimum hourly wage is $11 for businesses with more than 25 workers -- and will increase by one dollar per year until it hits $15 by 2022.

A recent study surveyed nearly 2,700 Americans to ask what the federally-mandated minimum wage should be. The answer averaged to $11.56 per hour.

Similar movements are also underway overseas.

Lawmakers in Australia are working on a new minimum wage of just over $14 per hour. A recent 3.5 percent increase mandated by the country's Fair Work Commission still has the wage below a 7.2 percent hike demanded by unions.

Protesters in South Korea rallied Friday not for a higher wage, but benefits. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the country's two umbrella labor groups, gathered in Seoul to demand President Moon Jae-in veto a bill that would calculate the value of bonuses and other benefits into the minimum wage.

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Costco ups wage to $14 amid growing global movements
Costco ups wage to $14 amid growing global movements
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