Costco to boost minimum wage to $16 per hour next week, CEO says

Julia La Roche
·Correspondent
·3 min read

Costco (COST) will boost its minimum wage by $1 to $16 starting next week, the membership warehouse retailer's CEO said on Thursday during a Senate panel hearing.

"Two years ago, we moved our starting hourly wage to $15 or more everywhere in the U.S. Effective next week, the starting wage will go to $16," CEO Craig Jelinek said during his testimony before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee.

The executive noted that while there's "a lot of external focus" on the minimum wage, he made a case that it's important for employees to make more "than just $15 or $16 an hour." He added that Costco employees receive pay increases based on hours worked, with full-time employees seeing two pay bumps per year, while part-time workers see one pay increase in a year. Those bumps occur until employees reach the top of Costco's scale, which also increases each year.

Jelinek also pointed out that Costco employees receive two bonuses each year up to $4,000 combined. The average hourly wage, which includes those bonuses, at Costco is around $24, he said.

"In the U.S., our employees average over nine years of service with the company. Over 60% of U.S. employees have five or more years with Costco, and over one-third have more than 10 years. We’re very proud of the fact that more than 12,000 of our U.S. employees have worked for Costco for 25 years or more. Again, we feel the experience level and loyalty of our employees is a significant advantage for our company."

A Costco employee disinfects a shopping cart as shoppers line up to get into the bulk shopping store in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2020. - The number of confirmed coronavirus, COVID-19,  cases in the United States has topped 300,000 and there have been more than 8,100 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported on Saturday. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
A Costco employee disinfects a shopping cart as shoppers line up to get into the bulk shopping store in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2020. - The number of confirmed coronavirus, COVID-19, cases in the United States has topped 300,000 and there have been more than 8,100 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported on Saturday. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday, Signet Jewelers (SIG), the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry, announced it's raising its minimum wage for all U.S. employees to $15 per hour. The wage increase will take effect by the spring of 2022, covering both full- and part-time employees. The company employs around 22,000 people in the U.S.

Last week, Walmart (WMT), the nation’s largest private employer, announced pay increases for 425,000 U.S. store associates in the digital and stocking workgroups. The pay increase will take effect on March 13. After the pay hike, Walmart now has about 730,000 U.S. store associates, approximately half of its workforce, earning $15 or more per hour. According to the retailer, the average wage for its U.S. hourly workforce will now be at least $15.25 per hour.

In January, Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Kevin Johnson told Yahoo Finance that "roughly one-third" of Starbucks' retail partners in the U.S. now earn at or above $15 per hour. He expects all partners in the U.S. to be at or above $15 per hour in the next two to three years.

"[We've] always invested in our Starbucks partners and wage and benefits. That's a good investment to make because if we care for our partners and invest in them, they create that customer connection, and if customer connection scores go up, we know customers visit Starbucks more frequently. So, that is a very important investment," Johnson told Yahoo Finance at the time.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.