Jed Graham writes:
As the U.S. was adding about 400,000 retail jobs since the end of 2014, just three states saw retail employment decline...
For one state, there’s no mystery. North Dakota’s entire economy has fallen into a recession with the end of the fracking boom. Overall nonfarm employment in North Dakota has shrunk by 5% over the past year, so it would be surprising if the retail sector didn’t see job losses as well.
What about the two other states? It’s probably no coincidence that Connecticut and Massachusetts, the first two states to approve hikes in their statewide minimum wage to north of $10 an hour, now stand out because of retail-employment contractions.
Massachusetts has lost 2,200 retail jobs since employment in the sector peaked last July, seasonally adjusted Labor Department data show. Retail employment is down 500 from December 2014, before the first step of the state’s wage hike went into effect.
The minimum wage rose from $8 to $9 at the start of 2015 and to $10 on the first day of 2016. It’s slated to go to $11 in 2017.
But the current $10 minimum wage works out to more like $10.80 an hour for retailers because of the state’s seemingly antiquated Massachusetts Blue Laws that require all but the smallest retailers to pay time and a half on Sundays and holidays...
In January, two of the four Sam’s Clubs slated for closure by Wal-Mart were in Massachusetts. While the company didn’t specifically blame the state’s rising minimum wage, closures of other Wal-Mart discount centers or Neighborhood Markets came in high-minimum-wage havens including Oakland, the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart scrapped plans for two stores in D.C., where the $10.50 minimum wage will rise by $1 this July...
Before Massachusetts approved an $11 wage, Connecticut held the title for the highest state wage. The state first hiked its minimum from $8.25 to $8.70 at the start of 2014, then became the first to embrace President Obama’s call for a $10.10 wage. The current minimum wage of $9.60 will hit $10.10 at the start of 2017.
Now retail employment in Connecticut is down 1,400 from a peak of 185,000 first hit in April 2014, and the state has fewer retail jobs than it did 30 months ago.