Macy’s has become the latest retailer to increase wages as a lure for increasingly hard-to-find employees, and has added a debt-free education benefit that will total approximately $35 million over the next four years as another “sweetener.”
The retailer already has phased in the $15 per hour minimum wage across several markets and plans to hit this target nationally for both new and current associates by May 2022. The $15 rate was extended to Macy’s distribution center employees this past summer, and once all the retailer’s investments are made, average base pay will top $17 per hour.
The education program, scheduled to begin in February 2022, will cover 100% of tuition, books and fees for a wide range of educational options, from high school completion and English language learning to associate and bachelor’s degrees, boot camps and professional certifications within Macy’s own network. The retailer has partnered with Guild Education, an education and upskilling platform, to build the program.
“As we continue our transformation to be a digitally led omnichannel retailer, a critical component of our growth includes investing in our talent and enhancing all aspects of their Macy’s Inc. experience with a strong focus on advancement opportunities, culture and engagement,” said Danielle Kirgan, Chief Transformation and Human Resources Officer at Macy’s in a statement. “This program removes a major barrier to accessing education and will help our colleagues to further develop their skills and grow their careers and earning potential.”
Since the middle of 2020, several of the country’s largest retailers have taken steps to raise associates’ pay. The need to make retail and distribution center jobs more attractive has intensified in recent months, with retailers concerned that labor shortages will limit sales opportunities and hamper customer service during the all-important holiday season.
Following are some of the most notable milestones on the road to higher wages:
- In June 2020, Target implemented a $15 minimum wage;
- In January 2021, Wayfair boosted its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all U.S. employees;
- Costco set its minimum wage at $16 per hour in February 2021;
- Amazon said it would create 125,000 jobs starting at $18 per hour in September 2021; and
- Starbucks announced in October 2021 that it would raise average hourly pay to $17 by summer 2022.