There’s a simple solution for the labor shortage: raising the minimum wage, a former Obama economist says

McDonald's fight for $15 wage
An employee of McDonald’s protests outside a branch restaurant for a raise in their minimum wage to $15 an hour, in Fort Lauderdale on May 19, 2021.

  • The economy is reopening but millions are still jobless as openings sit at record highs.
  • In response to this ‘labor shortage,’ 25 GOP-led states are ending federal unemployment benefits early.
  • Ex-Obama administration economist Heidi Shierholz says the minimum wage should go up instead.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Everywhere you look in the economy, there seems to be a shortage. The important things missing from shelves can be explained by factors like backed-up supply chains and a shipping crisis.

But another shortage that’s emerged – with increasing prominence as America’s recovery continues its long and winding path – is labor. Millions of workers are still out of work, even though businesses are reopening and want to hire.

One solution has to do with wages, and simply whether they’re enough to get people to do certain jobs after a pandemic. May’s jobs report showed wages on the rise for leisure and hospitality workers, but also showed workers quitting at the fastest rate documented in 20 years. While they saw significant pay jumps – by 7.2% from January to May – that only brought average hourly earnings up to $15.68.

“The wage growth that we’ve seen, say in leisure and hospitality, over the recent months, it’s so little more than just getting those wages in that industry back to where they would have been if COVID hadn’t happened,” Heidi Shierholz, the director of policy at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told Insider. She said talk that such workers are getting more leverage may be “overstated,” and it probably won’t be sustained or permanent.

GOP governors in 25 states have decided that it’s too much leverage anyway, and that federal unemployment benefits in place for much of the pandemic have run their course. They’ve moved to end them months before their September expiration in President Joe Biden’s stimulus. It’s a decision that JPMorgan said is “tied to politics, not economics,” noting that many of these states didn’t have more job openings than jobless people.

Shierholz, a veteran of the Obama administration as chief economist at the Department of Labor, said broad reform is necessary in the labor market, and raising the minimum wage is a key aspect. That could both bring workers back and let higher wages stick, even after enhanced unemployment benefits taper off in September.

“That’s smart, and it’s good economics,” Shierholz said. She also said that things like passing the PRO Act – legislation that could both strengthen unions and offer greater protections to nonunionized workers – would aid recovery.

Shierholz previously told Insider that prematurely ending unemployment benefits could stifle the recovery, especially since workers receiving those benefits are putting that money back into the economy. She said that if the concern is higher benefits keeping workers from work, ending benefits may not be the best route.

“You could quote unquote ‘deal with that’ by cutting off unemployment insurance benefits, which has all these terrible implications” – like stifling recovery and leave millions without income – “or you could do something like raise the minimum wage,” she said.

Boosting wages to $15 may be helping with hiring and retention

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the businesses that did raise wages to $15 an hour succeeded in luring in new workers and boosting morale while cutting turnover. The Washington Post’s Eli Rosenberg spoke with several business owners who had done just that. Progressives have long wanted to raise the federal minimum wage to exactly that $15-per-hour number.

At the 5th Street Group – which owns several restaurants in Charlotte and Charleston – raising starting wages to $15 an hour, and enacting new tipping measures for staffers who aren’t normally tipped, helped the group go from being 50% to 60% staffed to nearly fully staffed in a matter of three weeks, according to the Post.

However, the likelihood of a $15 minimum wage being enacted anytime soon is low. Progressives led by Sen. Bernie Sanders pushed for its inclusion in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, but the measure ultimately didn’t survive under reconciliation rules. Eight Democrats voted against it, signaling even party-line support was not quite there. Talks on what, exactly, a minimum wage hike should be have also stalled recently.

The federal minimum wage is still $7.25. Although the above map shows that many states have opted to increase the minimum beyond that level, several remain at the federal rate.

Rhode Island recently passed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, becoming the ninth state to pass a $15 minimum wage.

“Take a look at nationally – right now, states that are taking away the unemployment benefit of $300,” Gov. Dan McKee said in a press conference after signing the minimum wage bill into law. “Those states are at $7.25 cents an hour. So Rhode Island is a leader on this.”

But while raising the minimum wage might be key to an equitable recovery, according to Shierholz, it doesn’t look like the proposition is going anywhere anytime soon – even if it could help solve the labor shortage that’s holding back a full economic recovery.

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Amazon warehouse workers are reportedly almost twice as likely to face serious injuries compared to rivals like Walmart

Amazon warehouse staff
  • Amazon warehouse workers are more likely to get injured than those at competing companies, according to Washington Post analysis.
  • For every 100 Amazon employees about 5.9 were injured in 2020, as compared to 2.5 at Walmart warehouses.
  • Amazon said the company has actively been working to boost safety protocol at fulfillment centers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon warehouse workers are more likely to get injured than employees at comparable companies like Walmart, according to a report from The Washington Post.

In the past four years, the company has had the highest rate of serious injuries at its warehouses – incidents that led employees to stop working or change their role at Amazon, the publication found.

Last year the company reported over 24,400 injuries and about 12% of the warehouses that reported injuries in the US were owned by Amazon, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) obtained by the Post. The publication collected its own data, but based its story off a report from the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC).

Employees at Amazon warehouses are nearly twice as likely to report serious injuries, according to the SOC report, which found that for every 100 employees there were 5.9 Amazon injuries reported last year, as compared to 2.5 at Walmart warehouses.

An Amazon spokesperson told Insider the company has been actively working to make fulfillment centers safer and avoid workplace injuries.

“We grew our dedicated workplace health and safety team to more than 6,200 employees and invested more than $1B in new safety measures in 2020 – expanding programs like WorkingWell, and implementing new technology and processes, PPE, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization to protect against COVID-19,” the spokesperson said. “While any incident is one too many, we are continuously learning and seeing improvements through ergonomics programs, guided exercises at employees’ workstations, mechanical assistance equipment, workstation setup and design, and forklift telematics and guardrails – to name a few.”

An expert said the injuries could be attributed to Amazon’s high productivity goals, though the OSHA data does not break down the root of the workplace injuries. Debbie Berkowitz, a former OSHA chief of staff, who now works at a worker advocacy group, told The Post that Amazon’s employee metrics are too lofty and pointed to Amazon’s performance-tracking system that gauges each employee’s productivity level.

Though workplace injuries at Amazon were still higher than at other warehouses in 2020, the number of injuries slightly decreased. The number of incidents dropped around the same time the company briefly halted its performance-tracking system in order to give workers more time to meet COVID-19 safety standards, according to The Post.

In April, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in his final letter to shareholders that the company is working to implement new tools in order to prevent musculoskeletal disorders – an issue that accounts for about 40% of workplace injuries. He said the company needs “to do a better job for our employees” and told shareholders Amazon will invest over $300 million in 2021 to make warehouses safer.

Since the pandemic started, Amazon has continued to grow at a record pace. Last month, the company announced its plans to hire another 75,000 workers in the US and Canada for its fulfillment centers, as well as transportation sector.

The e-commerce giant’s $17 per hour average starting pay has made Amazon an increasingly attractive employment option. Experts told Insider in May that the company’s higher pay opportunities pose a threat to other minimum wage jobs.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Have you been injured at an Amazon warehouse? Reach out to the reporter at gkay@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rising wages are a ‘feature,’ not a bug, of the post-pandemic economy, President Biden says

Biden economy speech Cleveland Ohio
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy during a visit to Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., May 27, 2021.

  • Wage hikes at large-scale employers are an encouraging sign for the economic recovery, Pres. Biden said on Thursday.
  • The increases are a sign workers are gaining bargaining power for the first time in decades, he added.
  • Biden noted there’s “more than ample room” to raise wages without driving inflation higher.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The wage hikes seen in recent weeks offer an encouraging hint of what the new US economy can look like, President Joe Biden said Thursday.

Large-scale employers have been raising their minimum wages as they look to attract workers through reopening. Companies such as McDonald’s, Amazon, and Under Armour have rolled out higher starting wages through May. The hikes appear to be in response to unexpected tightness in the labor market.

While millions of Americans remain unemployed, those on the sidelines are holding out for higher compensation before rejoining the workforce.

Republicans have blamed bolstered unemployment benefits for the labor shortage, saying they disincentivize jobless Americans from seeking work. Biden, however, sees a more encouraging trend behind the wage hikes. The raises “aren’t a bug” but “a feature” of the post-pandemic economy and show that workers are finally regaining bargaining power, the president said.

“Instead of workers competing for each other for jobs that are scarce, we want employers to compete with each other to attract workers,” Biden told a crowd in Cleveland, Ohio.

He continued: “That kind of competition in the market doesn’t just give workers more ability to earn a higher wage, it gives them the power and demand to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace.”

Critics of the recent wage hikes have also deemed them a symptom of rampant inflation that could spark a new economic crisis. Stronger inflation typically does translate to higher pay, as workers demand greater compensation to counter rising prices.

Biden instead linked the raises to a reversal in long-stagnant wage growth. Worker salaries and wages have made up a smaller and smaller share of US economic output since the 1960s. At the same time, compensation for CEOs and shareholders has boomed.

Boosting compensation for workers at the bottom of the pay scale is long overdue and poses little risk to the recovery, the president said Thursday.

“We have more than ample room to raise workers’ pay without raising customer prices,” Biden added.

While several companies have announced their own wage hikes, the latest efforts to introduce a higher minimum wage at the federal level have so far failed. The Senate voted down an amendment to raise the federal wage floor in March, and lawmakers haven’t made substantial progress toward such a hike since. And with eight Democrats defecting from the party and voting against the proposal, such legislation faces an uphill climb at least until the 2022 midterms.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Walmart workers reveal the one thing they wish they knew before starting their jobs

walmart worker covid
Walmart workers reveal what it’s like to work at the country’s largest employer.

  • Walmart is the world’s largest private employer with about 2.3 million workers globally.
  • Insider spoke with nine Walmart employees to get a better sense of what it’s like to work at the retail giant.
  • Workers shared tips for prospective employees, such as communicating openly with management.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Walmart is the world’s largest private employer, with about 2.3 million workers globally, including 1.6 million in the US – and it’s looking to hire thousands more people this year.

Many of Walmart’s employees are based in the retailer’s stores, working the checkout lines, stocking goods, and packing grocery orders, among other duties. Walmart pays about $15.25 an hour on average, according to the company.

But what is it really like to work for Walmart as a store-level employee? And what do workers wish they’d known before joining the retail giant?

In interviews with Insider, nine Walmart employees from across the US revealed what they have learned about managing time off and communicating with supervisors, among other work tips.

Openly communicating with managers and other employees makes the job easier

An employee who worked until recently worked in the grocery department of a Walmart store in Georgia said openly communicating with other employees helped her schedule work shifts around her responsibilities as a mother. She said Walmart managers allowed her to use lunch breaks to pick up her daughter from school.

She also said if her daughter needed something during her shift, she could get coworkers whom she had befriended to cover for her.

“I’m going to shout out my coworkers, I was able to get through a lot of days from my coworkers’ help,” she told Insider. “You have to be a team in order to get something done.”

Insider confirmed the employment status of this employee, as well as others cited in this story. Several workers interviewed asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

One department manager who has worked at Walmart for about 15 years told Insider that they advise employees to “always keep in mind the core values of self respect and respect for others” in order to get through stressful times at work.

Walmart said gathering feedback from employees is a cornerstone of its culture.

“Sam Walton believed front-line associates are our best idea generators and one of his rules for building a business was to listen to everyone in the company,” a spokesperson said in a statement sent to Insider. “Today, associates’ feedback – both anonymous and direct – continues to create a culture of trust, transparency, and engagement.”

Got a tip? If you’re a Walmart associate, contact these reporters at aakhtar@insider.com and acain@insider.com. We can keep sources confidential.

Use your attendance points wisely

One employee in Oklahoma said he tells new hires to beware of accruing attendance points, which mark absences from work.

Workers get one point for missing a shift without managerial approval, two points for missing a shift without advance notice, and two points for missing work during holidays like Christmas Eve or around Thanksgiving, the employee said.

A total of five points can result in termination, though in some cases managers have discretion to remove points, the worker said. Each point remains on employees’ records for six months.

“I personally hate this point system,” the employee said. “I get the reasoning behind it but I believe that having a little more than five points might make it a little better.”

A former part-time Walmart cashier named Gypsy Noonan – who is also a member of the labor advocacy group United for Respect – told Insider of her own experience with the points system. She said that she was once “pointed” for taking off when her young son was sick.

“I helped them out and worked for them on one of my days off,” she told Insider. “But they wouldn’t balance the point out. I thought that was really unfair, seeing as I really had been a model employee for them.”

A Walmart spokesperson said that the company’s attendance system services to ensure that “associates in the right place at the right time.”

“Walmart associates receive their schedules at least two weeks in advance and key retail event dates are updated quarterly,” a spokesperson said. “Like any business, we have an attendance policy that clearly outlines expectations for regular and punctual attendance, as well as steps to follow when an associate must miss work. We understand that there are times when unexpected circumstances arise.”

The spokesperson said that Walmart workers receive regular paid-time-off, which workers can request in advance, as well as protected paid-time-off, which can be used at times “when they are unexpectedly unable to make it to work.”

Your department could have a major impact on your work experience

The department you work in – whether it be grocery, customer service, or electronics – impacts the quality of your job, said one Walmart worker in California.

He said the electronics department – where he works – is more of a “chill job,” while other departments have to handle more customer complaints and do extra work to keep up with demand.

Another worker who helped in the electronics department in another Walmart location in California echoed that sentiment. He said he would recommend that new hires try to land in a department that’s not in the front end – where cashiers and greeters are – due to the higher likelihood of clashing with customers.

A Wisconsin-based cashier said one challenge of working in the front end is managing checkouts.

“We never seem to have enough staff to do checkouts,” the cashier said. “People complain about there not being enough cashiers, but I can’t do anything about it.”

“The good news about Walmart is there is all different types of jobs in our stores, our clubs, our distribution and fulfillment centers meaning there are many, many opportunities to find the job that is right for you,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.

Beware of the impact the job can have on your mental health.

One front-end employee in Texas said she wished she had a better idea of the stress that the job could entail before she joined Walmart. She said customers have become more “hateful” and rude since the pandemic began, and she recalled an instance where a shopper yelled at her for asking her to move out of the entrance.

“It’s rare that you encounter nice people,” she added.

The employee, who works nights, said she feels her store is understaffed, and she typically continues working past the time that her shift ends to put returned items back on shelves and clean.

The associate also said she gets paid around $11 an hour, less than other associates in other departments who get paid a few dollars more. Walmart confirmed that the minimum hourly pay for certain roles in some locations remains around $11.

“It’s a good job to get you through a period where you need some sort of employment, but I don’t think it’s anywhere anyone should stay for any length of time,” she said.

Other workers said that taking a proactive approach can mitigate conflicts with shoppers.

A Walmart worker in Virginia told Insider that they have found that many customers “are good people and, if you give them a bit of help, most are very nice.”

“Retail is a people business and our first priority is to serve customers,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “Anyone can have a bad day, but overall retail is a very exciting industry to be in right now, there is so much change, new technology, new ways to serve customers and that change will continue which brings a ton of opportunity to launch and grow a career. And no one offers more opportunity than Walmart – we promote 500 US associates every day.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Noncompetes and no-poach agreements have destroyed opportunities for tens of millions of American workers. Here’s how one state attorney general fought back..

San Francisco cafe coronavirus
Baristas prepare take-out orders for customers at Henry’s House of Coffee in March 2021 in San Francisco.

  • Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the “Pitchfork Economics” podcast with Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein.
  • In the latest episode, they spoke with Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson about noncompete agreements.
  • Ferguson says these agreements can seriously damage minimum-wage workers’ future job mobility.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If I asked you to name the job title of a worker who would be required to sign a noncompete agreement, you’d probably think of high-paying jobs – designers of new Apple products, for instance, or CEOs with access to corporate secrets. Noncompetes were designed for just that purpose: to protect a company’s proprietary information by limiting the ability of high-level employees to jump from one company to another in the same field for one or two years. Employees at an executive level are privy to inside information about a corporation that could be fatally damaging in the hands of a business rival, and so in theory noncompetes serve as a kind of cudgel against what could amount to corporate espionage.

In practice, most noncompetes aren’t being used to protect sensitive intellectual property at all

A 2019 study from the Economic Policy Institute found that “somewhere between 27.8% and 46.5% of private-sector workers are subject to noncompetes,” which means anywhere from 36 million to 60 million American workers have signed a noncompete agreement in their current job.

So what does that look like for the average American worker? Consider Mercury’s Coffee, a chain of eight coffee shops employing over 100 people in the greater Seattle area. For years, the chain demanded that its workers sign noncompete agreements preventing them from going to work at any other coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of any Mercury’s location up to a year and a half after leaving the company.

For a barista working part-time, that noncompete agreement would be financially disastrous. They’d have to either switch careers and build a whole new set of marketable skills, find employment far outside the Seattle area, or risk litigation from their former employees at Mercury’s.

In 2019, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office found that Mercury’s had, in fact, threatened legal action against at least two employees who violated the terms of the agreement: “Mercury’s filed suit against one of its former baristas, a store manager who made $17 per hour. The barista left Mercury’s to work for a competitor about one and a half miles from a Mercury’s location. Mercury’s threatened to sue another former employee who left to work at a nearby Starbucks.”

Low-wage workers including fast-food servers, baristas, and even janitors around the country are forced to sign noncompete agreements, even though they don’t have access to sensitive or secret information. So why are businesses demanding that their workers sign them?

Noncompetes hurt employees by restricting future job opportunities

The answer is in the name: Noncompete agreements help artificially stifle competition in the labor market, allowing employers to keep wages low by limiting workers’ employment options. They eliminate the only real leverage American employees have left – the threat that they can leave and find work somewhere else for better pay, benefits, and workplace standards.

A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute found that noncompetes were one of the major factors that over the past 40 years have shrunken the paychecks of the median American worker by roughly $10 per hour. And many of the same franchises that required new employees to sign noncompete agreements also had secret “no-poach agreements” that meant workers at one McDonald’s franchisee could not go to work at another McDonald’s franchise, further suppressing wages and slowing down the job market.

On the latest episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” Washington Attorney General Ferguson joined host Nick Hanauer to explain his fight against these pernicious practices.

“We started looking into these no-poach agreements,” Ferguson explained, “And when we did, my team came to the conclusion that they actually violated antitrust laws. It really is unlawful to restrict a worker’s ability to move from one job to another.”

Ferguson’s office requested franchise agreements from every corporation that had franchises in Washington state and found that nearly 300 companies had some form of a no-poach clause.

“Keep in mind, these are huge corporations, in many situations, and this impacted millions and millions of workers across the country,” Ferguson said.

“We sent them a letter saying, basically, you need to eliminate this no-poach provision, not just for your Washington franchisees, but nationwide. Otherwise, we’re going to file a lawsuit against you” Ferguson said. “And so eventually, over the course of about a year, all of them eliminated these no-poach agreements – not just in Washington, but across the country.” (Sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s was the sole holdout against Ferguson’s threat, but they eventually paid a $150,000 settlement and agreed to drop their no-poach clause after Ferguson sued the chain.)

Fighting against no-poach and noncompete agreements in state legislature

Thanks to Ferguson’s leadership on the issue, the Washington State Legislature passed a law in 2019 which voids noncompetes for employees who earn less than $100,000 annually.

Seven other states have similar laws on the books. But Ferguson notes that noncompetes are still legal in the vast majority of states. He urges people in those states to “talk to your local legislators” to take action on behalf of workers.

Ferguson says some companies are still trying to enforce their illegal no-poach agreements that limit worker mobility, too.

“If there’s no-poach agreements going on that you hear about, write to your attorney general,” Ferguson said. State attorneys general have “the power to shut those down exactly in the same way that I did. The roadmap is there, the work is done. These corporations will cave if an attorney general writes a letter saying, ‘you need to get rid of this, it’s unlawful.'”

But while the fight for worker mobility has largely taken place on the state level up until now, Ferguson sees some hope on the national level.

“The Biden administration has set a goal of eliminating or substantially narrowing these no-poach and noncompete clauses that have been so prevalent and pervasive throughout our economy,” Ferguson said.

For workers, that could result in a big raise as employers nationwide will once again have to compete to offer the best wages and benefits in order to attract good employees – you know, the way the labor market is actually supposed to work.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Under Armour is raising its hourly minimum wage to $15 in the US in a bid to attract workers

FILE PHOTO: Products are displayed in an Under Armour store in New York City, U.S., November 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Under Armour products.

  • Under Armour is raising its minimum wage for US and Canada-based hourly workers.
  • Wages will rise from $10 per hour to $15 and $15.25 Canadian Dollars per hour for US and Canadian workers, respectively.
  • Several companies have raised their minimum wage during COVID-19, including Target and McDonald’s.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Under Armour is raising its minimum wage for US and Canada-based hourly workers in a bid to attract more talent, the company announced Wednesday.

Starting June 6, the athleticwear company’s US hourly workers will get a minimum wage raise from $10 per hour to $15 per hour, while Under Armour workers in Canada will get a raise to $15.25 Canadian Dollars per hour. This will be a 50% pay boost for some of its staff, according to Under Armour.

Over 8,000 hourly Under Amour workers in the US and Canada will be impacted by this rate raise, which is 50% of the company’s global employees and 90% of its Retail and Distribution House team, according to the company.

Read more: Under Armour CEO on the brand’s diversity and inclusion strategy and choosing which social issues to support

The company is also currently looking to fill over 3,000 positions, including store managers and sales roles. This minimum wage raise was announced to help attract these workers amid the ongoing labor shortage, and “acknowledges the hard work of our frontline teammates,” Stephanie Pugliese, Americas at Under Armour’s president, said in the press release.

“Teammates in our retail stores and distribution houses are our strongest asset and we needed to make a strategic decision on our hourly wages to be a competitive employer in the retail space,” Pugliese said.

This announcement comes one day after Bank of America announced its own hourly minimum wage raise to $25 by 2025. Like Bank of America, several major companies have announced an increasing starting pay in 2020 and 2021. This includes Target, which raised its wages from $13 to $15 per hour, and McDonald’s, which raised its entry-level hourly wage from $11 to $17.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Employers struggling to fill entry-level roles could soon turn to TikTok to recruit

tik tok
TikTok is testing out a new feature to help Gen Z find entry level job listings.

  • TikTok is testing a new feature to help Gen Z users find job listings, Axios reported.
  • Despite the high unemployment rate, companies are struggling to fill entry-level roles.
  • Many employers have begun offering perks, including wage increases, to attract workers.

TikTok is testing out a new feature to help Gen Z connect to job listings right on the app, Axios reported.

This feature is designed to give users access to job openings right on the app, and will give participating companies access to interested applicants, who will be able to use TikTok videos as their resume, according to the report.

TikTok users have already been using the platform as a tool for sharing career advice as well as providing tips for job openings, interview etiquette, and resume building advice. And the app sees value in creators who are doing more than entertaining: Last summer, the app launched an initiative in Europe to fund educational content on the app.

“We want people to turn to TikTok not just for entertainment, but to learn something new, to acquire a new skill, or simply get inspired to do something they’ve never done before,” the company wrote in a blog announcing the program. “People are already doing this, and it’s a trend we want to get behind and accelerate.”

Now, Tiktok might be more than a place where users can learn new skills, it also could to get people hired. Or, in the case of businesses struggling to fill job openings, help them staff up.

Only 266,000 jobs were added in April, far fewer than the 1 million jobs expected, proving to be a dismal month for recovery.

And despite the high unemployment rate and COVID-19 restrictions loosening around the country, employers are struggling to fill job openings, leading some companies to provide incentives for job applicants.

A McDonalds in Florida began offering applicants $50 just to come in for an interview, but even that hasn’t been enough to attract potential workers.

The food service industry is especially aching to fill job vacancies. Taco Bell held spot interviews at nearly 2,000 company parking lots in April in an attempt to fill thousands of positions. IHOP will host a “National Recruiting Day” on May 19, as it looks to fill nearly 10,000 openings.

The labor shortage has converged with the larger conversation of raising minimum wage. Chipotle Mexican Grill is the latest company to raise wages as it works to fill nearly 20,000 positions. The company will increase pay to a range of $11 to $18 an hour for crew members and managers at its US stores.

The pandemic recovery has proven that employees are less willing to work long hours in labor intensive jobs like the service industry for a little more than minimum wage, as Insider’s Kate Taylor reported last month.

A majority of Americans – 80% – believe the minimum wage is too low, according to a recent poll. Lawmakers have attempted through the Raise the Wage Act to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour, which would bring pay increases to more than 30 million Americans.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Target CEO Brian Cornell says George Floyd ‘could have been one of my Target team members’

Target CEO Brian Cornell
Brian Cornell, CEO of Target.

  • George Floyd, who was murdered last year by a Minneapolis police officer, could have been a Target employee, CEO Brian Cornell said.
  • Floyd’s murder took place “just blocks away” from the company’s Minneapolis headquarters, Cornell said.
  • Cornell called the conviction of the officer involved a sign of progress and accountability.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Target CEO Brian Cornell has been particularly outspoken about the murder of George Floyd last year by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the crime last week.

“It happened only blocks from our headquarters,” the CEO of the Minnesota-based retail giant told the Economic Club of Chicago on Tuesday. “My first reaction watching on TV was that could have been one of my Target team members.”

In the conversation with Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty and incoming chair of the club, Cornell discussed the steps the company has taken to address the issues raised by Floyd’s death, including law enforcement’s treatment of Black Americans and racial inequity.

“For so many of us, we saw that verdict as a sign of progress, a sign of accountability, but also a recognition that the work is just starting and there’s much more work that we have to do,” Cornell said.

Floyd’s death, which was caught on video, led to widespread protests last summer and calls for an examination of systemic racism in the country.

Target has since gathered a special committee focused on supporting Black employees and expanding business with Black-owned vendor partners.

Earlier in April, the company announced it would spend more than $2 billion on black-owned businesses by 2025 by purchasing goods from more than 500 Black-owned businesses and contracting with Black-owned services from marketing to construction.

Cornell says addressing these challenges should not be delegated to someone else in the C-suite.

“As CEOs we have to be the company’s head of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that we represent our company principles, our values, our company purpose on the issues that are important to our teams.”

The $93 billion company now has more than 1900 stores, and more than a third are led by people of color, Cornell said. His executive leadership team and board are similarly diverse, he said.

Lawmakers in Washington have renewed calls to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour, though some retailers say the move would lead to higher prices and potentially fewer jobs. Advocates for boosting the minimum wage point to research that shows higher wages reduce inequality and will pull many workers out of poverty.

Target instituted a $15 hourly starting wage in 2017.

“There were a lot of naysayers. In fact, many people didn’t actually expect that target would be here today but those investments have proved incredibly beneficial.” A forthcoming distribution center in Chicago will have a starting wage of $18 per hour and provide over 2,000 jobs, he added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Joe Manchin says he’s ‘not a roadblock’ to Biden’s agenda but won’t be a part of ‘blowing up’ the Senate

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the nomination of Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M., to be Secretary of the Interior on Capitol Hill in Washington.

  • West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he’s “not a roadblock” to Biden’s agenda.
  • Manchin, a Democrat, has opposed some of Biden’s policy proposals, including his hike of the corporate tax rate.
  • Manchin has also said he will refuse to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, on Sunday said he didn’t believe he was a “roadblock” to President Joe Biden, despite his opposition to parts of the president’s agenda, including his infrastructure plan.

“I’m not a roadblock at all. The best politics is good government,” Manchin said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash.

Machin said he doesn’t believe legislation should just be pushed through by those in power without debate or bipartisan discussion.

“We won’t give this system a chance to work,” Manchin said. “I’m not going to be part of blowing up this Senate of ours, or basically this democracy of ours, or the republic that we have.”

Manchin and Arizona Sen. Krysten Simena, also a Democrat, were praised last week by South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican, for their opposition to eliminating the filibuster in the Senate.

“The House wasn’t designed to be partisan. The House was designed to be hot as a cracker,” Manchin added. “We were designed to cool it off.”

Democrats and Republicans hold an even 50-50 split in the Senate, but Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tie-breaking vote, giving Democrats a slight lead. But Republicans can still torpedo any legislation they dislike by using the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to bring a debate to an end.

In an April 7 op-ed in the Washington Post, Manchin said he would not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster, reaffirming his previous position.

“There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” he wrote. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”

Manchin was also one of eight Democrats who voted against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal that would’ve raised the federal minimum wage to $15. All Democrats in the Senate would’ve needed to vote in favor of the proposal for it to have passed.

Earlier in April, Manchin said he opposed some of Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, specifically his proposal to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. Manchin said he believed the tax should be set in between at 25%.

“The bill, basically, is not going to end up that way,” Manchin said during an appearance on a West Virginia radio station. “If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere. So we’re going to have some leverage here.”

Manchin on Sunday told CNN he would support a smaller bill with a “more targeted” approach to infrastructure.

“Why can’t we try to make this work?” he asked. “If you have the violent swings every time you have a party change, then we will have no consistency whatsoever.”

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Andrew Yang on which would more broadly help the most Americans: universal basic income or higher wages

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang rides the Staten Island Ferry on February 26 in New York City.

Most progressives – really, most Americans – agree that income inequality is a tremendous problem. For over 40 years, the vast majority of profits have gone to the wealthiest 10% of the economy, and a gigantic portion of those gains have been scooped up by the wealthiest .01 percent. The $50 trillion dollars that used to go to the American working class has now been leveraged to a fraction of the population, and that disparity is now obvious to everyone.

In this case, though, identifying the problem is the easy part. A lot of very smart people have many different ideas about how to alleviate income inequality, and many of these ideas aren’t compatible with one another. So decisions will have to be made about how to get that money back in the pockets of ordinary Americans.

For Nick Hanauer, the host of the “Pitchfork Economics” podcast, the first step to address income inequality was easy. In Washington state, Hanauer became one of the leading voices in the Fight for $15, which called for a $15 minimum wage. Now that it’s been endorsed by almost every single high-profile Democratic politician, $15 seems obvious, though Forbes in 2013 characterized it as a “near insane” proposition.

In the latest episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” Hanauer describes those early days of the Fight for $15 to former presidential candidate and current New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. And Yang is in agreement with Hanauer’s assessment that raising the minimum wage is good for the economy.

“Just about everything out of your mouth, I’ve always agreed with,” Yang told Hanauer. “But I think you would agree with me, particularly during this pandemic, that the extremity [of America’s income inequality] is accelerating and getting worse.”

Yang’s approach to fixing the economy

The entrepreneur and New York City mayoral candidate is perhaps the most high-profile proponent of the universal basic income (UBI), in which the government would send every American a check that they could then spend however they wish.

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang.

“If I had a choice between something like universal basic income and a higher minimum wage, I would choose universal basic income,” Yang said. “But if I don’t get universal basic income, then I’m all for raising the minimum wage.”

“I’m on exactly the other side of that trade,” Hanauer said. “I really do believe in capitalism. I do believe that it is a great economic system – the best ever devised.” At the same time, Hanauer rejects the idea that “the whole system will come tumbling down if companies are required to pay their workers enough to live in dignity without food stamps.”

Yang told Hanauer that when he considered getting into public life, “I looked at the political possibility of changing the labor standards along the way you suggest.”

Universal basic income versus a higher minimum wage

Yang believes that the idea of a UBI is simpler and more suited to the modern world than reforming and updating the suite of labor standards instituted in the first half of the 20th century. He considers automation to be the leading problem for American workers in the 21st century, and believes that a significant portion of the American workforce will be made obsolete once technologies like self-driving cars and trucks finally mature.

If Yang’s dire prediction is correct, and millions of Americans are forced out of work and essentially considered useless to the labor force, a UBI might be better-suited to solve that crisis.

Nick Hanauer 100 list

Hanauer, however, believes that the coming wave of automation is not significantly different than the uncountable waves of automation that workers have lived through since the dawn of civilization. The invention of assembly lines, industrial farming equipment, and personal computing caused disruption in their fields that temporarily put people out of work, but all three technologies created jobs in the long run.

Hanauer believes that the real battle is to make sure that the newly created jobs pay enough that workers can afford to fully participate in the economy, because their consumer demand is what creates more jobs.

A meaningful path forward

The problem with internal debates among progressives is that there is no one right answer, and that these economic ideas are largely exclusive of each other – no politician that I know of is simultaneously calling for expanding the minimum wage and also establishing a regular series of UBI payments for all Americans.

The path forward can only be found through good-faith, informed debates like this, deliberating what action is possible, which outcomes are preferable, and who is persuadable. The debates of today are the crucibles that shape the policy of tomorrow.

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