Minnesota group asks shoppers to find stores that pay living wage

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A Minnesota pro-labor group is prodding shoppers who are gearing up for Black Friday to find local shops that pay a living wage, KARE 11 reports.

The effort is led by Minnesota 2020, which notes that state data show that many big retailers – department, clothing, and sporting goods stores – pay a median wage of $9.05 an hour, meaning half of workers less than that. The group in a recent report notes that retailers including Target, Walmart and Macys pay some entry-level workers below the poverty level.

The group says that Minnesota’s living wage for a family of four is roughly $13.55 for two adults working full time. The group has backed a campaign to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota to $9.50.

"No one who works 40 hours a week should have to live in poverty," Minnesota 2020 spokesman Joe Sheeran told KARE. "This holiday season, shop your values."

Minnesota lawmakers considered raising the wage earlier this year, and likely will again next year.

"We're asking purchasers, consumers, to think about using their purchasing power in a productive way that raises up the community," leader Lee Egerstrom says in a 1-minute video about the group's efforts.

That can be a tough message to deliver amid the blaring din of holiday advertising from major retailers. Budget-conscious shoppers are looking for the lowest-priced sales, which often lead them to the big retailers in Minnesota 2020's crosshairs. “It all has to do with deals,” shopper Zaheer Qurshi told WCCO. “Whoever offers the best deal, that’s where the people are going to go.”

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