TJX Cos., the owner of discount retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, is raising its worker pay to at least $9 an hour this year, a sign that the retail industry is responding to a similar wage hike announced last week by
TJX, based in Framingham, Mass., said all of its U.S. employees will start earning at least $9 an hour in June and that those who have worked at least six months will get a boost to $10 an hour in 2016.
As the economy improves, pay raises could help retailers hold onto employees who increasingly have more options in the job market. Nationwide protests calling for workers to be paid a living wage have also put the industry's pay scales in the spotlight.
"This pay initiative is an important part of our strategies to continue attracting and retaining the best talent," TJX Chief Executive Carol Meyrowitz said in a statement. She said TJX wanted to "remain competitive on wages in our U.S. markets."
The retailer, which has about 191,000 employees worldwide, did not disclose its current entry-level hourly pay, but a recent report from Credit Suisse pegs it at around $8.24. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and California's is $9 an hour.
The move by TJX raises the possibility that other retailers will follow the example set by Wal-Mart, which last week announced that it was boosting wages for its employees to at least $9 an hour in April, and then $10 an hour in 2016.
Wal-Mart characterized its decision as an effort to retain employees. The world's biggest retailer had also faced pressure over the past year from labor groups that held demonstrations and rallies calling for higher pay and more consistent hours.