On Wednesday, clothing retailer Gap, Inc. announced that it will raise its hourly minimum wage to $10, a change that will affect 65,000 employees in the United States. The announcement comes just one day after the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis arguing that raising the minimum wage could reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers.
Current GAP employees earning the minimum wage will seen an increase to $9.00 in June of 2014 and then to $10 in June of 2015. GAP also owns Banana Republic, Intermix, Old Navy, Athleta, and Piperlime, and currently operates in over 50 countries, employing 135,000 people all over the world.
“To us, this is not a political issue. Our decision to invest in frontline employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.”
In a release, the company argues that increasing the minimum wage will help “attract and retain great talent” and improve the overall customer experience.
While many retailers claim that they cannot afford to pay the minimum wage without raising their prices or firing employees, the research begs to differ, showing that companies paying low wages would benefit from the massive stimulus a wage increase would bring to poor workers who spend the majority of their income on the bare essentials like food and clothing.
On Wednesday, even Walmart announced it would consider supporting an increase in the minimum wage, which is astonishing coming from one of the worst low-paying companies in the country. Walmart acknowledges that the increase would generate extra money for the retail giant’s typically low-income customers. Additionally, employees experiencing a wage increase tend to work harder and stay at their company longer.
Chains like Costco, Whole Foods, Boloco, and In-N-Out Burger have all embraced higher wages for these reasons. With Republicans acknowledging that they will kill any attempt to raise the federal minimum wage this year, there has been severe pressure on the private sector to voluntarily raise their wages, which could prove to be a step in the right direction. With little Congressional action, various cities and states are embracing higher minimum wages. Seattle recently proposed a $15/hour minimum wage and President Obama also announced that federal workers and contractors would get a raise to $10.10 an hour via executive action.
While GAP is certainly making some positive progress in the lives of American workers, the company still has a lot of work to do to in the way of its actual labor practices for foreign workers. After several deadly disasters, the company still refuses to sign on to a legally binding contract to improve Bangladeshi garment factories instead of offering a severely watered down self regulated plan. The companies lack of regulating its supply chain also led to revelations in 2007 that GAP was inadvertently subcontracting child labor in India.
h/t Think Progress