SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (CBS) — Starting next month, Hobby Lobby will raise its minimum wage for full-time workers to $17 an hour, executives with the arts-and-crafts retailer said Tuesday, citing the difficulty of working during the coronavirus pandemic.
The hourly wage hike will make Hobby Lobby, which has more than 43,000 employees and 900 stores around the U.S., among the highest-paying U.S. retailers. Amazon, Costco and Target offer baseline pay of $15, while Walmart offers at least $12.
“Because this year has presented so many challenges to our employees, we are very happy that we are able to provide pay increases to thousands of our associates before the Christmas season,” CEO David Green said in a statement.
Part-time workers at Hobby, who earn $11 per hour, will not qualify for the new base pay. The company did not disclose how many employees will earn $17 per hour.
“If this applies to a reasonable share of their low-wage workers, then that’s really putting their minimum wage at a decent level, and that’s a nice thing to see,” said Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute and formerly the chief economist at the Labor Department in the Obama administration.
Hobby Lobby made headlines earlier this year when stores did not close as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the nation. In states like Texas and Wisconsin, locations closed temporarily, then reopened as essential businesses offering face masks and sanitation supplies. In April, as the virus shuttered businesses around the U.S., Hobby Lobby furloughed thousands of its employees.
The federal minimum wage remains stuck at $7.25, having last been raised in 2009. The wage varies by state, with a high of $15 to $7.25 in places like Indiana and Pennsylvania.
Boosting the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would lift 1.3 million families out of poverty, according to a 2019 analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.