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WSJ: Apple Raises Starting Associate Pay to $22/Hour Amid Rising Inflation

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Apple is reportedly planning to boost starting pay for U.S. store associates to $22 per hour, and even higher in certain markets, according to The Wall Street Journal. The increase would make starting salaries 45% higher than they were in 2018 as the retailer faces the challenges of a tight labor market and a unionization push.

The change would be part of a wider effort to increase compensation across the company. Some workers, including store associates and AppleCare employees, were reportedly told annual reviews would be moved up three months and that their pay increases would take effect in early July. Normally reviews occur in the fall to coincide with the end of Apple’s fiscal year.

“Supporting and retaining the best team members in the world enables us to deliver the best, most innovative, products and services for our customers,” said an Apple spokesman in a statement seen by The Wall Street Journal. “This year as part of our annual performance review process, we’re increasing our overall compensation budget.”

Pay raises could help fend off further unionization efforts, which are reportedly ongoing in at least four stores. An Atlanta location has formally filed to join the Communications Workers of America and a group called “Fruit Stand Workers United,” based in Apple’s New York City flagship, is seeking to affiliate with Workers United, the union that has supported unionization efforts at Starbucks.

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The pay increase may somewhat mollify Fruit Stand Workers United, which cited current pay scales failing to keep up with inflation as one of its grievances, but the group also said difficult working conditions — such as an inability to hold managers accountable for unfair or abusive practices — also are part of its desire for unionization.

Starbucks also is countering a union push and has invested nearly $1 billion in increased pay, modernized training and other worker-centric initiatives in 2022. The retailer previously committed to setting its starting pay to $15 per hour beginning Aug. 1, 2022, along with giving raises to associates who already make more, which will bring the retailer’s average national pay to $17 per hour.

U.S. businesses in general have spent 4.5% more on worker costs in the first three months of this year compared to the first three months of 2021, according to data from the Labor Department. However, average salaries still fell when adjusted for inflation, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple’s massive wage increase may be part of an effort to keep its workers ahead of rising inflationary pressure.

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