By Anne D’Innocenzio
AP Retail Writer
NEW YORK — Target Corp. is raising its minimum hourly wage for workers to $11 starting next month and then to $15 by the end of 2020, a move it says will help it hire and keep the best employees and make shopping a better experience for customers.
The initiative announced Monday is part of the discounter’s overall strategy to improve its business, which includes remodeling stores, expanding its online services and opening up smaller urban locations.
Target quietly raised entry-level hourly wages to $10 last year from $9 from the previous year, following initiatives by Walmart and others to hike pay in a very competitive marketplace. But Target’s increase to $15 per hour far exceeds not only the federal minimum of $7.25 but the hourly base pay at Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, and plenty of its retail peers whose minimum hourly pay hovers around $10. Now Target’s raise could force some rivals to match the pay.
“We see this not only as an investment in our team but an investment in an elevated experience for our guests and the communities we serve,” Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, told reporters on a call Friday.
The changes come as there’s more attention on hourly wages. Thousands of workers have protested to call attention to their financial struggles and to fight for $15 an hour. The election of a Republican-controlled Congress dampened hopes of an increase in the federal minimum wage, but advocates have continued to press at the state and local level.
At the same time, competition for lower-skilled workers has heated up. As shoppers get more mobile-savvy, retailers want staffers who are more skilled at customer service and in technology such as using iPads to check out inventory. But with the unemployment rate near a 16-year low, the most desirable retail workers feel more confident in job hopping.