The National Retail Federation called Senate legislation aimed at increasing the federal minimum wage by 40 percent an anti-job tax that would lead to higher labor costs for employers and fewer opportunities for young and entry-level workers. NRF will include votes on the minimum wage as “Key Retail Votes” in its annual voting scorecard used to measure legislative support for the retail industry’s public policy priorities.
“Raising the standard of living for low-skill, low-wage workers is a valid goal,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a letter to the entire Senate. “But there is clear evidence that mandated wage hikes undermine the job prospects for less skilled and part-time workers.”
NRF believes that this is the “least opportune moment” to mandate a federal wage increase on employers with small and large businesses alike already confronting the myriad workforce challenges associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Instead of focusing on “sound-bite politics,” NRF urged Congress to focus on advancing long-term economic policies that would provide employers with the certainty they need to make strategic investment decisions and improve hiring opportunities for all workers.
“Policymakers have other tools, such as increasing the earned income tax credit, fixing the tax code, education improvements, immigration reform, transportation funding, and strong trade alliances that will aid in achieving that goal without creating more unemployment,” French wrote. “Finding more opportunities for those trying to start out is a better economic approach than restricting the amount of jobs for those seeking employment.”
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans.
Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation.