Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

Minimum-Wage Debate Prompts U.S. Retailers to Plot Strategies

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Even before it comes to a vote, retailers like Gap Inc. (GPS:US) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT:US) are weighing the benefits of a proposed increase in the U.S. minimum wage.

Gap, the largest clothing-focused chain in the U.S., announced plans to boost the hourly wages of its workers to $10 by next year, getting out ahead of a potential federal increase. The change will affect 65,000 workers, the San Francisco-based company said, drawing praise from President Barack Obama.

Wal-Mart, the biggest private employer in the U.S., said it’s neutral on the issue, though the company is assessing the benefits of a nationwide rise in the minimum wage. While such a move would increase its payroll costs, it also would put more money in the pockets of some its customers, said David Tovar, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company.

Obama and Senate Democrats want to increase the federal rate to $10.10 an hour from $7.25, saying it will bolster the economy and reduce income inequality. While House Republicans oppose the idea and it’s unlikely to pass, the legislative push has helped call attention to the issue — and forced companies such as Wal-Mart to at least consider the benefits.
• Category: National, Notable