A shift by Wal-Mart to a decent minimum wage would have positive ripple effects across the retail industry, which employs nearly 15 million workers in the U.S. Wal-Mart employs about 1 percent of the nation's workforce and nearly 10 percent of all retail workers. The company's practices undoubtedly set standards for the retail industry as a whole. Indeed, Wal-Mart's previous dollar wage increase was quickly matched by retailers like Target, T.J. Maxx, Ross, and even McDonald's.
Since November 2012, nearly 10 million workers have won gradual wage increases to $15 per hour through a combination of states and cities raising their minimum wage rates; local, state, and federal executive orders; and individual companies raising their pay scales. Two of the largest states in which Wal-Mart operates, New York and California, approved a statewide $15 minimum wage earlier this year. A federal bill would also increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2020.
The movement for a $15 minimum wage may ultimately leave Wal-Mart with no choice but to raise its minimum wage. But Wal-Mart, one of the wealthiest and largest employers in the U.S., can choose to act now and pay its workers what they need, and, more importantly, what they deserve. As Wal-Mart executives and the Walton heirs convene for their annual shareholders meeting this week to chart the future for the company, all evidence suggests that Wal-Mart can easily afford a $15 minimum wage.
* Researchers at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education analyzed the distribution of wages and hours worked for hourly workers classified under Wal-Mart's industry code and simulated the impact of raising the minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 an hour in 2016. Estimates are based on an analysis of the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey, combined with publicly available information on the size of Walmart's hourly workforce.
**OUR Walmart calculated the impact of $15 per hour for women, Black, Latino, and Asian workers using the number of hourly employees determined to receive a raise and the cost of that increase as calculated by UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, then utilizing ethnicity and gender breakdowns of Wal-Mart's workforce reported by the company in its 2015 Diversity & Inclusion report.