In the years following the Great Recession of 2007-2009, wages stagnated across all industries. Even as the economy began to recover, wages remained flat.
Now in 2018 it looks like the trend is finally starting to turn around. Wages for truck drivers are starting to rise as the competition for qualified drivers heats up. And in the retail industry companies are going to even greater lengths to compete for workers. One tactic is to offer hourly employees paid parental leave.
Retail is traditionally an industry where employers offer fewer benefits than in other sectors of the economy. But with unemployment holding fast at a historic low of 4.1%, retailers are struggling to attract workers to hourly-wage jobs.
But now the tight job market is forcing many retailers to re-think not only wages, but benefits, too.
Walmart announced on January 11 that it would be increasing wages and bonuses for its hourly workers. The company not only raised its starting minimum wage from $9 to $11 per hour, but it also expanded maternity and family leave benefits. The company estimated that this increase in wages and benefits will cost it about $700 million.
More big companies are starting to offer paid parental leave to their hourly employees (which make up 59% of the American workforce), too.
On January 24, Starbucks announced a new policy giving paid paternity leave to hourly employees.
“It brings the talent we’re looking for, and industry-leading retention,” said Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesperson.
In addition to raising its starting wage, Walmart also announced the same paid parental leave for hourly workers that the company’s salaried workers were already enjoying. The company is also offering to assist both hourly and salaried workers with the cost of adoptions.
Other big retailers that offer the same paid parental leave for both salaried and hourly workers are: Target, Amazon, Walgreens, TJX, and Home Depot.
Only after Home Depot and many other large companies made the move to offering paid parental leave for hourly workers did Lowe’s Home Improvement also follow suit. Starting on May 1, all Lowe’s employees will be able to enjoy 10 weeks of paid parental leave.
The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t mandate paid parental leave.
But while there is still no federal law guaranteeing maternity and paternity leave, President Trump has definitively expressed his approval. “Let us support working families by supporting paid family leave,” the president said during his State of the Union address on January 30.
Most Americans agree. 94% of those polled said paid leave would help families, and 65% said it would help the economy. With such widespread support, it will be interesting to see if and when the federal government will step in to guarantee all workers access to this widely-favored benefit.
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