Retail's Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, The Industry And The Overall Economy

Source: Catherine Ruetschlin, Dēmos, November 2012

From the press release:
According to the report, a higher wage floor equivalent to $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round employee for retailers with more than 1000 employees (such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy) would lift 1.5 million retail workers and their families out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create over 100,000 new jobs.

With $4 trillion in annual revenue, over 15 million employees and projections to be one of the largest sources of new jobs in the next decade, the retail sector plays a vital role in the economy, wielding great influence over the living standards of many Americans.

There is a flaw in the conventional thinking that profits, low prices and decent wages cannot co-exist. Retail profits have recovered from the Great Recession, yet the average pay of employees has not. The typical retail cashier makes an annual income of just $18,500–not enough to escape poverty. This type of low wage can be a drag on our economic recovery, as employees working full-time are still unable to make ends meet and contribute spending to the broader economy….

With low-income households more likely to channel additional income immediately back into the economy, the study shows a “multiplier effect” from their increased purchasing power would:
-Create between 100,000 and 130,000 jobs across all sectors
-Increase the next year’s retail sales by $4 to $5 billion–an amount equal to about 1/3 the sales growth expected this holiday shopping season
-Increase the GDP between $11.8 and $15.2 billion in the next year
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