Walmart announced earlier this year that it is increasing its minimum wage to $9 an hour, which is higher than the federal minimum. Now Bloomberg News has an article about the unintended consequences — fewer work hours for employees and less help for customers:
Regional executives told store managers at the retailer's annual holiday planning meeting this month to rein in expenses by cutting worker hours they've added beyond those allocated to them based on sales projections. The request has resulted in some stores trimming hours from their schedules, asking employees to leave shifts early or telling them to take longer lunches, according to more than three dozen employees from around the U.S....A Wal-Mart employee at a location near Houston, who asked not to be identified because she didn't have permission to talk to the media, said her store had to cut more than 200 hours a week. To make the adjustment, the employee's store manager started asking people to go home early two weeks ago, she said. On Aug. 19, at least eight people had been sent home by late afternoon, including sales-floor associates and department managers. The employee said she's covering an area once staffed by multiple people at one of the busiest times of the year -- the back-to-school season. On a recent weekday, she had a customer who had to wait 30 minutes for an employee to unlock a product the shopper wanted to purchase, she said. In e-mails, interviews and social-media posts, employees in a range of positions across the country shared similar stories of hours being cut.
It's not clear if the workers end up ahead, or behind, with the wage increase. They might be better off on an hourly basis. But if they make less or the same on a weekly or monthly basis, it's not clear that they are better off overall. You could say they could pick up a second job in the hours they aren't working at Walmart. But the article makes it sound as if the Walmart scheduling is unpredictable, which might make it hard to get a second job. This might be a good situation for someone who wants to work on their own in the "gig economy" doing something like driving an Uber. But the left opposes that, too, because it's not a full-time employee relationship with health benefits.
It's one thing if Walmart chooses to pay workers more and have them work fewer hours. But it's another thing if the government mandates it, or if Walmart does it in response to not-so-subtle political pressure. It's this sort of thing that led the New York Times editorial board to conclude "The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00."