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Costco ups the ante, makes big announcement for labor market

Costco Wholesale Corp. says it will raise its minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade. Costco is the second largest retailer by sales. (AP)

An idea that is a magnet for criticism has been embraced by yet another major retailer.

Costco Wholesale Corp. says it will raise its minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade. Costco is the second largest retailer by sales.

Entry-level wages will increase to $13 an hour, that’s $1.50 more than the current minimum wage. The announcement for the retailer, which had more than 200,000 employees at the end of the summer, follows Wal-Mart’s decision to give all hourly workers, at least, a 2 percent raise in February, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Related: Why Seattle’s minimum wage critics are ‘jumping the gun’

Is this yet another example of more livable wages becoming part of a national discussion, not just a local one?

Minimum wages have been put under the microscope, not just in Seattle, but other large cities as well. Skeptics have been quick to say wage hikes have failed, such as Forbes’ Mike Patton, who blamed Seattle’s spike in the unemployment as Los Angeles prepares to boost the minimum wage to $15 by 2020.

Erin Shannon told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that Seattle is losing restaurant jobs in the wake of the wage implementation.

“What is different in Seattle than every other metropolitan area in Washington state?” she asked. “Well, it might be that $15 minimum wage.”

Time will tell if the move is a sustainable one for Costco, which reported an 8.7 percent decline in second-quarter profit, according to the Journal.

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