Costco Wholesale Corp is raising the minimum wage for its hourly staff to $16 from next week, a dollar more than what its competitors Amazon.com Inc and Target Corp pay per hour.
The membership-only retailer's move comes as US President Joe Biden plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025, and a week after rival Walmart Inc raised its hourly wage to an average of $15.
Costco's chief executive officer Craig Jelinek made the announcement at a US Senate Budget Committee hearing on worker wages at large companies.
"It takes a lot of time to interview, find employees, lot of labor involved just trying to hire individuals. We want people to stay with us," Jelinek said, answering to Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee.
Issaquah, Washington-based Costco, which has over 180,000 employees in the US, has seen sales boom during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers stocked up their pantries.
The company, which raised hourly wages to $15 in 2019, also offered a premium pay to workers during the virus outbreak.
"In my past experience, wages usually don't put people out of business, how you run your business will put you out of business," Jelinek said at the hearing.
Even as big corporations raise their hourly wages, many small businesses have opposed a $15 federal minimum wage, saying it would lead to job cuts and closures.