Obama applauds Costco's wages after SOTU push for 'income equality'

President Obama visited a Costco (NASDAQ: COST) in Lanham, Md. this morning to reinforce talking points concerning income equality made during last night's State of the Union address. He hopes to push Congress to pass a minimum wage hike.

"It's time to give America a raise," Obama said during his 25 minute speech at the wholesale warehouse. "If you work hard, you should be able to pay your rent, buy your groceries, look after your kids."

Selecting Costco as the backdrop for such a petition is a nod to the company's generous wage structure. Despite the challenging economy, Costco pays its hourly workers an average of $20.89 an hour, not including overtime. Entry-level Costco employees start at $11.50 an hour, vs. the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. By comparison, Walmart said its average wage for full-time employees in the U.S. is $12.67 an hour, according to Bloomberg.

Obama is preparing to sign an executive order in the coming weeks setting a $10.10 minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts, part of his vow to take executive action, bypassing the Congress that has remained deadlocked on most legislation. Obama said he is ready to raise the hourly rate for all Americans and will lead by example starting with raising wages for some federal workers.

Costco has been an avid supporter of previous increases in the minimum wage. Last year, Costco's CEO Jim Sinegal also publicly urged Congress to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009. "We know it's a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty," he wrote.

For more:
-See this Washington Post article
-See this Bloomberg article

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