Target to Raise its Minimum Wage After All

by Harry Sheff

Target, which had stubbornly refused to follow Walmart’s lead in raising the minimum wage it pays workers to $9 an hour, has reversed course. The change will go into effect in April.

Walmart said in mid-February that it was raising its minimum wage in April to $9 an hour and boosting it to $10 an hour for some employees next year. TJX Companies, operator of the Marshalls and T.J. Maxx off-price chains, quickly followed suit.

Target’s change of heart could be blamed on a number of factors, including public pressure, bad press about its massive layoffs and a competitive job market.

While Target has said that it pays more than the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage in every market, it has not said how many of its workers make less than $9 an hour or in what specific markets.

“The wages we pay in the Northeast — or in New York and New Jersey — are very different from what’s competitive in Kansas or Missouri,” CEO Brian Cornell told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, which launched a media campaign to publicly shame the retailer for its refusal to raise minimum wages, has applauded Target’s new higher wages. “We’re thrilled about reports that Target has caved to pressure and decided to raise its minimum wage to $9 an hour,” said UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary in a statement. “This is a huge victory for hundreds of thousands of women living at near poverty levels nationwide, but it is far from a living wage. Women working full time deserve to be able to feed their kids and pay their rent. With two-thirds of minimum wage earners being women, we urge Target to act immediately to meet or beat the $10 an hour minimum being offered by many of its competitors today.”