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The CEO of Costco wholesale retail store, Craig Jelinek, announced the grocery store chain would be increasing their minimum wage to $16 next week.

Jelinek told the Senate Budget Committee panel the company’s plan on Feb. 25.

“Two years ago, we moved our starting hourly wage to $15 everywhere in the US. Effective next week, the starting wage will go to $16,” Jenilek told the panel.

Most Costco employees who work for an hourly wage in the United States make $24 an hour and receive a twice-yearly bonus of up to $4,000.

“Our average wage for hourly employees in the U.S., excluding any overtime premium, but including the extra check component, is around $24,” Jenilek said.

“We’re certainly not perfect, but we try to take care of our employees because they play such a significant role in our success,” Jenilek continued.

Senate Budget member Lindsey Graham shared his concerns about the effect this wage increase will have on small businesses trying to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“My concern is not really about Costco because I think anybody that makes $158 billion you can probably – $153 billion, whatever the number is – absorb some increase in cost,” Graham said.

“I’m worried about the small business owner who is struggling because COVID has reduced their capability to earn a living.”

Graham continued by asking Jenilek, “if you run a restaurant or hotel and nobody can travel in the country, and seating capacity has been reduced by half or more, the revenues are down, and can you understand why an increased mandate from the government in terms of cost would be a devastating blow?”

“I can’t understand why it would be a devastating blow,” Jenilek responded. “I think it’s a devastating blow to the employees.”

The last time the federal minimum wage increased was in 2009 to $7.25.

Jenilek’s wage increase comes months after President Joe Biden demanded a $15 federal wage in his American Rescue Plan.

Written ByLauren Akabori

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