Overall wage growth in the retail sector outpaced the broader workforce in 2014, according to an analysis from payroll processing firm ADP. The trade sector, which includes retail, saw wages grow 4.4 percent during a year in which all groups rose by just 2.3 percent.
However, advocates for a higher minimum wage tempered their enthusiasm over the latest development.
"Because it's Wal-Mart, because it has such a massive impact on our economy, it's a significant announcement," said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. "But it's definitely not enough—$10 is not enough. ... This is still poverty wages."
Those working at that level are, though, getting more optimistic.
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Turnover rate for 2014 among those under 25 years old—a demographic that makes up just more than half of all minimum wage workers—was 49 percent, indicating that job mobility was high, especially when compared to the overall rate of 23 percent, according to ADP.
Nick Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx, used a novel method to determine the general climate for wage hopes—Google Trends, which shows traffic on the search engine for various terms. In his morning note Thursday, Colas explored a number of areas, among his findings for job searchers:
"Ask for a Raise" shows wage inflation is finally (almost) here. Some Federal Reserve policymakers would like to see wage inflation heat up, since this should theoretically push overall inflation closer to the central bank's 2 percent goal. When you look at the pace at which Google users query "Ask for a raise," you'll find that should be here soon. Workers interested in asking for more money are searching for this term at rates equal to the period before the Financial Crisis. So if we don't have much wage inflation yet, it may be because employees are still working out how to ask for more money. Once they get their pitch down, look out…
"Get a Raise" gives wage inflation a Southern drawl. As you work with Google Trends you grow to appreciate regional variations for the same term. In Kentucky, the Carolinas, Kansas and the Deep South you Google "Get a raise," not "ask for a raise." Same trends though—more people are searching for this term than in 2005-2009.
Colas concludes that amid the hopes that stronger wages will accelerate the recovery, "the U.S. economy may, by the traditional numbers, be solidly on the mend but the actual foundations of this recovery are still shaky."