WATERTOWN — The city’s newest big-box retailer on Monday announced it will pay its full-time employees at least $17 an hour.
The Oklahoma City corporate headquarters of Hobby Lobby announced it is raising its minimum full-time hourly wage to $17, effective Oct. 1, according to a news release.
In 2009, Hobby Lobby was one of the first retailers to establish a nationwide minimum hourly wage well above the federal minimum wage and has since raised its minimum wages 10 times over the last 11 years, the company said.
In 2014, Hobby Lobby raised its full-time minimum hourly wage to $15 well before it became fashionable with other retailers.
“Because this year has presented so many challenges to our employees, we are very happy that we are able to provide pay increases to thousands of our associates before the Christmas season,” Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green said.
Hobby Lobby opened an anchor store in the Salmon Run Mall on July 29.
Hobby Lobby was founded in 1972 and currently operates 923 retail stores stocked with more than 80,000 arts, crafts, hobbies, home accent, seasonal, and custom framing products.
Cheryl A. Mayforth, director of the WorkPlace in Jefferson County, said she had not heard that the arts-and-crafts and hobbies store increased the full-time wage to $17.
“It would be nice to know how many full-time employees there are at Hobby Lobby,” she said, adding that retailers typically have part-time workers.
She did not know if other local retailers are paying $17 an hour. Fast food workers typically are paid $13.75 an hour.
In recent weeks, she’s noticed that other national retailers have put up “Help needed” signs looking for employees. Other than that, she’s aware of businesses hiring one or two employees but nothing more.
It’s also too early to say what “Christmas help” will look like at retailers this year as the region is still impacted by the coronavirus.
According to the latest figures, the unemployment rate for Jefferson County is 12.3 percent, 9.7 percent for Lewis County and 12.1 percent for St. Lawrence County.