Costco is raising its minimum wage to $16 for its hourly store workers

An employee organizes Apple Inc. AirPods for sale at a Costco Wholesale Corp. store in San Francisco, California.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Costco is raising its hourly minimum wage to $16, putting its starting wage above many of its rivals such as Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy.

“Two years ago, we moved our starting hourly wage to $15 everywhere in the U.S. Effective next week, the starting wage will go to $16,” said Costco CEO Craig Jelinek during a Senate budget committee hearing on Thursday.

The retailer has more than 180,000 employees in the U.S. and 275,000 employees worldwide.

This move comes as Congress debates the $15 an hour federal minimum wage increase as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill.

Target and Amazon both pay hourly workers a minimum of $15 an hour. Walmart’s minimum wage starts at $11 an hour, but it recently announced raises for 425,000 employees that will boost the retailer’s average pay to above $15 an hour. Walmart is the nation’s largest employer.

Beginning in March of last year, the chain instituted a $2 an hour premium to its employees to help cushion the financial strain that the pandemic brought to many people.

“As we approach the one-year mark of this extra pay, we will limit the temporary premium, but convert some of the premium to a permanent increase by raising each step on hourly wage scales,” said Jelinek.

Costco employees in the U.S. have been with the company for over nine years on average, with more than 60% of its workers averaging five years or more of service.

Costco has 803 locations worldwide, including 558 in 45 U.S. states, Washington and Puerto Rico.

The company wasn’t immediately available to comment further on its decision.

Correction: The hearing took place on Thursday. An earlier version of this story misstated the date.

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