Friday, February 27, 2015

1452 Run For Your Lives, It's Inflation!

First it was Wal-mart. Then came TJMaxx. Who will be next?

These retailers are going to raise wages. Nine dollars an hour for TJ’s and its Marshall’s and Home Goods brand stores.

Great news, right?  Maybe.

First, let’s do the math.  $9.00 an hour x 40 hours = $360. Times 52 weeks (assuming a two week paid vacation) = $18,720 before taxes.  Sounds decent, right? Well, not really. But better than now.

Now, let’s look at the poverty line:

If you’re single, it’s $11,670 according to federal figures for 2014, the latest available. For a couple, it’s $15,730.  Family of three: $19,790.  Getting iffy here.  And for a family of four: 23,850.

You still there after all that math?  Good. Here’s more.  Assuming a two income household, the gross would be $37,440.  No food stamps for you!

OK, so you have to buy your own groceries if two of you under one roof are making $9 an hour each.  Bought groceries lately?  It’s going to take a big chunk of that $18 an hour.

But wait, there’s still more: we’ve made two really iffy assumptions:
  1. Two weeks paid vacation.
  2. Full time 40 hour status.

Who gets hired full time these days?  How many workers at either of the two companies are full and how many are part time?  The figure changes from day to day.  Sometimes from hour to hour. But if you’re out of work now, chances are your next job won’t be full time.  Not right away, at any rate.

And even among full time hourly workers... there’s a management workaround. They’ll put some broom pusher in charge of another broom pusher or one stock worker over another and -- presto! -- he’s management.

No overtime for you!

Inflation hawks who have been dead wrong for the last ten years are already squawking that this is going to raise the price of … everything.  And they’re already lining up,  billy clubs in hand, to tell us how bad a move raising wages is.

Three percent here, two there, one and a half percent somewhere else?  Why it’ll be the ruin of us, the absolute ruin.

Combine all this generosity with raising minimum wages in many states, and we’ve got Jimmy Carter style inflation crawling out from under the rocks, they say. Substitute “Gerald Ford style” if you liked Carter.

And then, get your head examined.

Shrapnel (Centenarian Edition):

--We note with sadness the passing of Yutaka Katayama, long time head of American operations for Datsun/Nissan.  He was the “father of the ‘Z’,” the working man’s sports car. And while neither a company founder nor an engineer, he was credited with the company’s initial success here. Yutaka Katayama was 105.

--Then there was another guy you never heard of, Irving Kahn, one of America’s first professional investors and the oldest one still going to the office at least few days a week.  He passed away yesterday at the age of 109. Longevity is a hallmark of that family. His three siblings also lived past 100.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2015

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