As employers work hard to fill vacancies, a salary of $15 has become the norm

Washington (Associated Press)-Signs and banners are scattered on suburban commercial streets and hung in shop windows and restaurants. This shows that American service industry employers have a new despair: “Hiring now, $15 an hour.”

This is hardly the official federal minimum wage—$7.25, which hasn’t increased since 2009—but for many low-skilled workers, $15 an hour has become increasingly a reality.

Companies, especially the catering, retail, and travel industries, have been offering $15 wages to try to fill enough jobs to meet the growing needs of consumers. Millions of consumers are now locked down for a year after Can be consumed freely. Many unemployed, inspired by stimulus checks and expanded unemployment assistance, feel able to insist on higher wages.

Changes since the pandemic have been rapid. For many years, especially in the 2020 presidential campaign, labor advocates have been advocating a wage of $15 an hour, which will ultimately enable low-income workers to afford basic necessities and reduce inequality. Many people consider it a long-term goal.

Now, many human resources companies say that many companies must pay $15 an hour to fill jobs.

“This number is not a coincidence,” said Aaron Sojourner, an economist at the University of Minnesota. “This is the number put forward by the activists and workers 10 years ago, and a movement has been launched towards this goal.”

Even so, millions of Americans still earn less than $15 an hour. The Non-Party Congressional Budget Office has calculated that even by 2025, approximately 17 million workers will still be below that level.

However, at ZipRecruiter, the number of $15 per hour job advertisements on the site has more than doubled since 2019, said Julia Pollak, the company’s labor economist. The proportion of jobs offering 401(k) retirement accounts, flexible arrangements, signing bonuses and other benefits has also increased.

The beneficiaries are people like Maggie Himmel, who started working at the Flowers for Dreams flower shop in Milwaukee last fall with an hourly salary of $12.50. In January, the company raised the minimum wage to $15.

The higher salary allowed Himmel, 22, to move into his apartment after sharing the living space with his sister. Her income is higher than before the pandemic, when she worked part-time in a flower shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with an hourly salary of about $11.

“Moving out alone is a huge goal for me,” she said. “I am very happy to receive this news.”

Steven Dyme, the owner of Flowers for Dreams, said that once the economy reopens this spring and the demand for flowers, especially wedding flowers, soars, the minimum $15 rule will make it easier for him to arrange staff. .

Dyme’s company has four locations—one in Chicago, one in Milwaukee, and two in Detroit—that he is fully staffed, with 80 full-time and part-time employees.

He said that at 15 dollars an hour, “I see a very different picture in terms of the speed of our hiring and the level of experience of the workers.”

Mathieu Stevenson, chief executive of hourly job website Snagajob, said that a few restaurant chains even offer retirement plans—he called the “white-collarization” of blue-collar jobs—because of the benefits that were once reserved for professionals. Give some service staff.

“The $15 per hour debate,” Stevenson said, “is basically resolved through market forces.”

However, other trends have also helped drive wages toward the $15 direction. The labor movement for $15 organized a strike of fast food workers and lobbied states and cities to raise the minimum wage. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have adopted a federal minimum wage of more than $7.25. Eleven states have passed laws that will increase the minimum wage to $15 over time. Among them is Florida, Voters approved a measure last year Raise the minimum limit to $15 by 2026.

Other states that are expected to reach the bottom line of $15 an hour include California, Illinois, New York and Virginia. Ben Zipperer, an economist at the Free Economic Policy Institute, estimates that four in ten workers live in states where the minimum wage will reach $15 in the next few years.

The National Employment Law Project, an advocacy organization for low-income workers, calculated 26 million people, or about 16% of workers, received higher wages Because since 2012, the minimum wage in all states and localities has increased, but it is usually less than $15 per hour.

The report found that this growth disproportionately benefited black and Hispanic workers. Historically, it has been found that a higher minimum wage can reduce the racial wage gap.

Since its first launch in July 2009, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is now the longest period of time and has not increased. Data from the Department of Labor shows that only about 250,000 people—less than 0.5% of all workers—received this wage last year.

Many employers have to pay more to keep up with the big companies, including Amazon, Costco, and Target, which have announced that they will increase their salary increases to $15 or more. recent, Under Armour, Southwest Airlines and Best Buy A salary bottom line of $15 has been adopted.

Economic research has found that when a large company raises wages, nearby employers feel compelled to follow suit.A sort of Research led by Ellora DerenoncourtPrinceton University economists found that companies competing with Amazon, Target, or Wal-Mart in the local market usually respond accordingly, with their wages rising by one dollar and one dollar. Derenoncourt’s research also found that when companies seek to match the compensation offered by large competitors, they usually end up hiring fewer people, albeit with relatively small impact.

Some economists believe that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour—more than twice the current minimum wage—will result in job loss. CBO stated in its recent assessment that by 2025, this means 1.4 million jobs will be lost. But the CBO also found that as many as 27 million people will receive a raise.

One factor driving wage increases is the changing outlook for many low-wage workers. Millions of them were fired when COVID-19 first broke out in the spring of 2020. Some people who work in grocery stores, restaurants, or hotels don’t want to go back to those jobs now—at least with the same salary.

Three rounds of stimulus checks, coupled with a federal unemployment benefit of $300 a week, make it easier for them to refuse jobs with insufficient pay. Pollak of ZipRecruiter points out that with additional unemployment benefits, unemployment benefits pay an average of about $625 a week-equivalent to about $15 an hour.

This may be a big reason A March survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York It was found that workers without a college degree increased their expected minimum wage for work by 26% from a year ago.

Economists are not sure whether or how long the huge salary increase will last. But many people predict that when the $300 federal benefits for the unemployed expire in September, schools reopen, and more mothers bring their children back to school to work full-time, the influx of workers will make it easier to hire and reduce the pressure on employers. . raise salary.

Nebraska is one of the states that stopped paying $300 in benefits and resumed requiring unemployed people to prove that they are looking for work. Greg Sulentic, who owns the Express Employment personnel agency franchise in Lincoln, Nebraska, said these measures have attracted more job seekers, but they are not a panacea. In the office he oversees, there are still 1,300 vacancies.

Sulentic said that since the pandemic, the wage rate has risen, and workers who earned $10 to $11 an hour last year are now paid $15 or $16 an hour.

“We have seen unprecedented wage growth in this industry, and I have been doing this for 25 years,” he said.

He said that some employers have been reluctant to raise wages, but “These companies have difficulty recruiting and retaining employees.”

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