Walgreens Latest Retailer to Raise Starting Wages to $15 an Hour, Will Begin in October

Walgreens will become the latest corporation to increase wages for employees, announcing on Tuesday that the company will set its starting pay at $15 an hour.

The pharmacy franchise said the pay boost will occur in phases that will complete by November 2022. Roughly 190,000 hourly workers in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands across 9,100 store locations will experience the wage hike.

"Total investment to support the starting wage increase is anticipated to be approximately $450 million over the next three years, with one-third of the amount invested in Fiscal Year 2022," Walgreens said in its announcement. "The company anticipates that it will partially absorb the investment through the normal course of business."

About half of Walgreens' employees earn $15 an hour already, according to spokesman Phil Caruso. Starting pay differs based on the market but wages are never less than $10 an hour.

Roz Brewer, the company CEO, said in a statement that raising workers' wages is not only the right thing to do but "highly important" to attracting and retaining employees.

"Investing in and rewarding our team members is not only the right thing to do, it's highly important to retaining and attracting a talented workforce, and to continuing to serve our critical role in community health care," Brewer said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

US Wages
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: Rev. Dr. William Barber II (C) and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis (L) march with hundreds of protesters on Capitol Hill to demand an end to the filibuster, stronger voting rights, immigration reform, a $15 minimum wage and other progressive policies on August 02, 2021 in Washington, DC. As part of the 'Moral Revival' movement organized by Repairers of the Breach, a non-profit political committee headed by Rev. Barber, hundreds of clergy and working poor people marched to the Supreme Court before being arrested outside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The official federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hasn't been raised since 2009. But many employers, especially in the retail industry, have been offering a $15 wage to try to fill enough jobs to meet surging demand from consumers.

Labor advocates have trumpeted $15 an hour as a wage that would finally allow low-paid workers to afford basic necessities and narrow inequality.

Walgreens rival CVS Health also said early this month that it was raising minimum pay for all employees earning hourly wages up to at least $15 an hour by next July. Employees there currently make a minimum of $11 an hour, but that will climb to $13 next month.

Outside retail, one of the country's largest banks, Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, said Monday that it was raising its minimum wage to $18 an hour.

Walgreens said Tuesday that it will spend about $450 million over the next three years on the starting wage increase.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. also runs thousands of drugstores in several other countries, including the Boots chain in the United Kingdom.

Company shares climbed more than 3 percent to $50.19 in midday trading while the Dow Jones Industrial Average, of which Walgreens is a component, rose slightly.

Walgreens Wage Hike
FILE - In this March 27, 2020, file photo, a Walgreens sign is displayed outside the store in Wheeling, Ill. Walgreens will hike starting pay to $15 an hour beginning in October, as employers across the United States continue boosting wages to attract workers. The drugstore chain said Tuesday, Aug. 31, 202, that the wage hike will take effect in phases and be completed by November 2022. Nam Y. Huh, File/AP Photo