Job Seekers Flock To The Gap
Job seekers are bombarding The Gap and Old Navy with applications after the American retailer announced plans to hike the hourly minimum wage of its employees to $10 next year.
About 31,000 employees of The Gap are getting raises this month to at least $9 an hour. Their wages will increase to at least $10 an hour when the second step of the policy goes into effect in June 2015.
Lyn Albright, vice president of Old Navy, told Bloomberg News that the company had seen a 10 percent jump in job applications overall since the company announced its decision in February. Applications were up 20 percent at her Old Navy division, the lower-priced brand of the casual clothing giant.
Notably, she said many of the applicants have retail experience. They're trying to job-hop from jobs at other retailers with lower pay scales.
As for benefits to the business of the wage increase, Albright told Bloomberg that The Gap will get more experienced and more knowledgeable employees over the long run. She said most customers walk into a store only after researching the company's products on the web, and expect sales associates to be engaged and well-informed about the merchandise they sell.
Albright spoke to Bloomberg during a visit to Washington D.C. for a White House Summit on Working Families.
In a separate interview, the company's CEO, Glenn Murphy told CBS News, "Our instincts are that, when it's all said and done, this is a race for talent."
The Gap company employs about 65,000 people in its U.S. stores, which also include the Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix and Piperlime brands. The raise might be most meaningful to employees of the company's stores in the South and Midwest, where many state minimum wages are set lower.
Its higher-wage policy got a publicity boost with a visit from President Barack Obama, who stopped by a Gap store in New York in March to praise the company's plan to move its employees' wages well above the $7.25 federal minimum wage. The president's efforts this year to raise the minimum to $10.10 an hour have stalled in Congress.
Summit attendees also heard from a Seattle businesswoman, Makini Howell, who supports her city's recent decision to raise the minimum wage there to $15, highest in the nation.
Howell, who employs 52 workers at several vegan restaurants called Plum Restaurants, told the audience that bosses "can care about the advancement of working families and still make a profit."
President Obama spoke at the summit on Monday, using it as an opportunity to call for paid maternity leave for working mothers. He noted that the U.S. is the world's only developed nation that does not require minimum paid leave rights for parents.
The president later started yet another political uproar when he took several summit guests to a Chipotle Mexican Grill for lunch. President Obama accidentally leaned over the "sneeze guard" on the self-service toppings bar, definitely a no-no if not strictly an impeachable offense.