Starbucks raises barista wages as restaurants brace for minimum wage hike

A worker stands inside Starbucks in midtown during the coronavirus pandemic on May 20, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

Starbucks is raising hourly wages for its baristas as the restaurant industry braces for a higher minimum wage when President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Starting Dec. 14, baristas, shift supervisors and cafe attendants will receive a pay increase of at least 10% if they were hired before Sept. 24, according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC. Employees who have worked at a company-operated location will receive an increase of at least 11%. And starting wages will be hiked 5% to help cafe managers find more staff.

The coffee chain is known for giving its workers more generous benefits and pay compared with other retailers and national restaurant chains. It already pays above minimum wage.

Business Insider first reported the memo written by Rossann Williams, the president of company-operated Starbucks locations in U.S. and Canada. Williams wrote the memo on Nov. 2, the day before the presidential election.

In March, Starbucks was among the companies that offered catastrophe pay to its workers as Covid-19 cases surged in the U.S. As it reopened cafes in its home market, it began phasing out the benefit.

The pay hikes come as voters express support a higher minimum wage. The federal wage has been $9.25 per hour for more than a decade, and the restaurant industry is expecting a hike during Biden’s tenure as president.

But states and cities are being more proactive. Most recently, Florida voted to increase its wage floor over the next six years until it reaches $15 an hour. It is the eighth state to approve a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the second-most populous state to do so.

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