More Companies Lift Pay to at Least $15 an Hour

For the first time, $15 an hour is commonplace, not the exception, for U.S. hourly employees.

August 10, 2021

Hiring Sign

WASHINGTON—Starting wages in the U.S. have reached a new milestone, topping $15 an hour on average, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Washington Post reports.

As the economy restarted after the first year of the pandemic, convenience stores, retail and grocery stores, bars and restaurants have had a hard time finding staff, triggering wage pressures. Recruiters and job boards have found many job seekers simply ignore work that pays less than $15 per hour.

Rutter’s announced last month that it would lift its starting wage for field employees to $15 an hour. Other convenience retailers have quietly increased wages.

“At Rutter’s, we recognize the difference our people make,” Suzanne Cramer, vice president of human resources, said in announcing the move in July. “We’re pleased to increase our wages yet again for our hardworking field employees. These are the front-line workers that continue to keep us at the top of the industry.”

Wawa, Casey’s and other retailers are offering hiring bonuses, and Sheetz in May announced a $2 an hour pay increase for its hourly store employees, plus an additional $1 an hour this summer. Sheetz employment openings at the store level include postings for store team members in certain areas, for example, Fredericksburg, Virginia, starting at $15 an hour, according to the Sheetz careers website.

Pay can vary by locality, too. For instance, at Maverik, retail team member positions (cashier/foodservice) can range from $11.50 an hour in Laramie, Wyoming, to $15 an hour in Spokane, Washington (plus an additional 12% premium pay and monthly bonus potential), according to Maverik’s recruiting website. Bucc-ee’s reportedly pays its cashiers at least $14 an hour to start, according to job postings on its website.

In 2020, the average full-time associate starting wage at a convenience store was $11.89 an hour, which was up 40.5% in the past 10 years, according to the NACS State of the Industry Compensation Report® of 2020 Data.

In other industries, big companies also are adjusting starting wages to attract potential employees. For instance, CVS will bump its initial wage from $11 to $15 by summer 2022. Other companies, including Best Buy, Disney, Costco and Target, already have $15 as their baseline pay.

This has become one of the fastest periods of rising wages for hourly workers since the early 1980s, with $15 an hour pay likely to stick around because wages rarely deaccelerate once they have moved higher, the Post reports.

While some states and cities have increased their minimum wage to $15 an hour, most are doing so on a graduated scale. Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

To help convenience retailers attract and retain top-notch people, NACS partnered with the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute in January 2020 to bring the Good Jobs Strategy to the industry. The Good Jobs Strategy, which is a combination of investment in people and smart operating choices, increases employee productivity, motivation and contribution and promotes operational excellence. Case studies show that implementing the Good Jobs Strategy can grow a business and increase customer loyalty.

Retailers can access the Good Jobs Calculator, designed exclusively for NACS and the convenience industry. This tool allows retailers to use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, and executives can run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a Good Jobs system.

A recent NACS webinar explored how retailers can attract and hire team members today and in the future. From virtual hiring to job shadowing, retailers are employing a host of ways to find and connect with potential workers.