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Costco to raise minimum wage to $16, exceeding retail rivals

By increasing its minimum hourly wage by a dollar, Costco will have a starting wage above fellow retailers including Amazon, Target and Best Buy.

Costco is set to raise the company's minimum wage to $16 per hour next week, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek announced Thursday while testifying before a Senate Budget Committee. 

Previously, Costco's minimum wage was set at $15. 

"Although there is a lot of external focus on starting wages and minimums, its important to us that Costco employees have an opportunity to make more than just $15 or $16 an hour," Jelinek said during his opening remarks.

But Jelinek said the average hourly wage for Costco employees is well above the company's minimum, sitting around $24 before bonuses. He added that wage increases typically occur twice a year for full-time employees and once a year for part-time employees. 

The announcement comes as Congress debates a federal minimum wage boost to $15 an hour by 2025. Democrats hope to include the gradual raise in their COVID-19 relief plan, but some moderates and Republicans have largely opposed the effort. The federal minimum wage has been at $7.25 an hour since 2009, with numerous cities and states passing laws to raise that minimum. 

By increasing its minimum hourly wage by a dollar, Costco will have a starting wage that is a dollar above fellow retailers including Amazon, Target and Best Buy. Walmart announced last week that more than a quarter of its workforce will now have receive a salary of at least $13 an hour.

"Since Costco's inception, the company has been committed to paying the employees very competitive retail wages and providing them broad and affordable health care benefits," Jelinek said.

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Credit: AP
Customers wearing protective masks from the coronavirus and keeping social distancing space line up to enter a Costco Wholesale store in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles, Saturday, May 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)