Facing a patchwork of
company leaders are
finding ways to raise
the pay of their lowest-earning workers.
But at what cost? MINIMUM
Note: All dates are effective date. Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U. S. Census Bureau.
Sept. 1, 1997
July 20, 2007
July 24, 2008
July 24, 2009
July 1, 2017
Boosting wages for the more than 11,000 workers at Sheetz’s
hundreds of locations by 5 percent to 7 percent translated into
a cost of $15 million in that year alone. Yet clearly the company
thought it was a worthwhile investment. “We aim to pay better
than 9 out of the 10 competitors for the labor force,” says Stephanie Doliveira, the company’s vice president of human resources.
“So when Wal-Mart raised their wages, we responded.”
It may be no surprise that Wal-Mart’s 2015 decision to pay
its employees more than minimum wage would affect how other
retailers compensate their workers, nor that Sheetz, named a top
place to work by Fortune magazine, would quickly follow suit.
But when even the notoriously profit-motivated Wal-Mart—the
nation’s largest nongovernment employer—raises wages voluntarily, it could be a sign that the law is out of step with the current
The federal minimum wage of $7.25 hasn’t budged since it
took effect in 2009, with inflation eroding its buying power
by about 10 percent since then. In 2012, low-wage workers
launched the global “Fight for $15” movement, which, as its
catchy name implies, has been pushing to more than double the
Yet despite having the support of high-profile advocates such