Restaurants and retailers have been desperate to find workers to handle a wave of customers, as the nation loosens pandemic-era restrictions. To attract more applicants, some companies have turned to raising pay.
Companies like Walmart, Amazon, Costco, Chipotle, McDonald’s, and more have increased wages, some to $15 per hour or more, The Associated Press reported. When the pandemic hit, workers at these companies were among the lowest-paid and at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 while other workers transitioned to working from home.
Additionally, however, the pay increases may lead to inflation if businesses raise product prices to account for the higher wages, though some businesses, The AP reported, could absorb the costs or automate some jobs to offset pay increases.
The jobs report that came out earlier this month that showed only 266,000 jobs had been added to the economy, a shortfall compared to the estimated one million jobs economists expected to see, was an indication that companies are struggling to get workers.
In states like Texas and Florida where restrictions have been lifted, the amount of people going to restaurants is higher than or nearing pre-pandemic levels, according to OpenTable. Still, companies are having trouble finding workers.
“Customers are coming back faster than restaurants can staff up,” Josh Bivens, research director at the Economic Policy Institute, told the outlet. “By raising pay, they are able to get more workers in the door.”
On Thursday (May 13), McDonald’s announced it will be raising the pay for workers at its 650 company-owned locations to an average of $15 an hour with entry-level employees making $11 by 2024. The fast food chain is encouraging its 14,000 franchises to do the same.
New hires at Amazon will be paid $17 an hour, the company announced. It’s looking to add 75,000 new employees and is offering a $100 bonus for newly hired people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Advocates say that raising the wage isn’t enough and that all workers deserve $15 an hour pay from companies, especially as Black and Latino workers have been devastated by the pandemic.
“Clearly, McDonald’s understands that in order to hire and retain talented workers, something needs to change,” Doneshia Babbitt, McDonald’s employee and union organizer said in a statement. “Now, they’re raising pay for some of us and using fancy math tricks to gloss over the fact they’re selling most of us short.”
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