NEW YORK — For many businesses, opposing minimum wage increases is a no-brainer: Raising the minimum wage increases their expenses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce steadfastly opposes the proposal, as do many businesses, big and small.
But on Tuesday a handful of businesses applauded a bill introduced in Congress to raise the minimum wage, and even sent out a news release vocalizing their support for doing so. They included retailer Costco and smaller businesses.
So why are some businesses calling for a change in policy that would so clearly increase their expenses, especially at a time when finances are stable at best? And why Costco, a public company that has investors watching every penny and questioning every management decision?
After all, wages in retail, when adjusted for inflation, have actually decreased by about 30 cents an hour since 2007. Wouldn’t retailers want to keep it that way?
For Costco, the answer is no. The company has earned a reputation over the years for treating employees relatively well. Costco pays a starting wage of $11.50 an hour and gives most employees health care and other benefits.
“Instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty," said Craig Jelinek, Costco’s chief executive.