Macy’s will be sweetening the pot for new hires, but not swiftly.

While business news is calling the current state of affairs a worker shortage, it isn’t. If you try to buy a coffee and it costs $3, but you only want to spend $1, is that a coffee shortage? No, it’s you not being willing to pay the price of coffee. It’s the same deal with low-paying jobs and workers.

Many of the major U.S. retailers are belatedly learning this lesson, and offering higher wages and better benefits to attract new hires. Target, Walmart, Starbucks, McDonalds, and Safeway-Albertsons all either increased their base wages, added benefits, or both in the past few months. On November 9, 2021, Macy’s announced that it will be joining that cohort.

Between now and May 2022, the department store chain will raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour, which will improve its average base pay to just over $17 an hour. For benefits, the retail giant is adding an educational benefit that will cover tuition, books, and fees for employees wishing to go back to school.

The educational benefit is offered through a partnership with Guild Education, an “upskilling platform” that brokers discounts for employers with nonprofit universities, bootcamps, and certification providers. With 75,000 employees after 2020 and a goal of hiring 76,000 more to reach pre-pandemic staffing levels for the holidays, Macy’s expects the program to cost them $35 million in its first four years.

“This program removes a major barrier to accessing education and will help our colleagues to further develop their skills and grow their careers and earning potential,” said Danielle Kirgan, chief transformation and human resources officer at Macy’s.

It is worth remembering that according to economists, the average median necessary living wage (MNLW) in the United States is $32 an hour. That is the point where a person makes enough to spend 50 percent of their wage on necessities, 30 percent on discretionary spending, and commit 20 percent to savings. The lowest average MNLW is $28 an hour in Mississippi.

Photo by pio3 /