Hobby Lobby plans to raise minimum wage to $17 for employees this fall

Hobby Lobby reopens as an 'essential business' In areas with stay-at-home orders in place, arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has reopened as an "essential business."

Hobby Lobby announced Monday that it would raise minimum wage for its full-time employees to $17 per hour effective Oct. 1.

The craft and hobby supplies franchise joins other national brands, including Walmart and Target, in their moves in recent years to raise minimum wage for hourly employees. In July, Target bumped its starting wage to $15 an hour. In January, Walmart said it would test higher wages for new hourly positions at 500 of its stores. However, the pay of $17 as the minimum gives Hobby Lobby a competitive edge compared with other store brands seeking to improve pay for their most essential workers.

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The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; 45 states, save for these five, have adopted a state minimum wage greater than that. Federal legislation, called the Raise the Wage Act, has pushed to increase the national minimum wage to $15 an hour and has been in the works during the last year. That pay raise across the board would increase wages for more than 30 million workers, lifting 1 million out of poverty.

“We have always worked hard to be a retail leader when it comes to taking care of our people,” Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green said in a statement. “From closing our stores on Sundays and at 8 p.m. the rest of the week, to providing some of the best pay and benefits in the retail industry, we are thankful that we are able to share our success with our valued employees and provide time for rest, family and worship. These investments allow Hobby Lobby to attract and retain a great group of associates who in turn help provide the wonderfully unique shopping experience enjoyed by our many loyal customers.”

The move to make the pay raise effective by Oct. 1 is in light of the turbulent financial year for many during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the statement. It’s unclear how many employees will be affected, but the Oklahoma-based enterprise employs more than 43,000.

“We are very happy that we are able to provide pay increases to thousands of our associates before the Christmas season,” Green said.

Hobby Lobby runs more than 920 stores in 46 states, employing thousands in regions across the country. The store franchise has faced backlash in the past for its Christian policies, such as closing on Sundays. The store also faced criticism in April, when stores remained open despite local shelter-in-place mandates. The company eventually closed its stores, but they reopened all 923 stores in July.