A Pittsburgh ice cream parlor raised its wages to $15 an hour earlier this month, and applications came pouring in—an indication that plenty of people are willing to work for living wages.
As WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh reported, Klavon’s Ice Cream was unable to find employees to staff its shop, so its leadership decided to raise the wages to $15 an hour, leading a flood of applicants to inquire about working there.
“We advertised it and overnight, my emails were through the roof. A lot of emails. It was over 1,000 applicants,” general manager Maya Johnson said, adding, “We really needed to make that boost for the summertime.”
Co-owner Jacob Hanchar, who was interviewed by Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC, said that turnover is a big concern for his business and others like his, and the wage increase was designed to limit that turnover.
“Especially in the restaurant business, turnover is a big issue,” he said, as conveyed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The other issue is burnout, a lot of people work two or three jobs and now they’re just working one job, so people are showing up on time now, they’re reporting to work in a better mood. Customer service has improved. Things like that, that you don’t always account for.”
The move allowed Klavon’s to fill 16 open positions “practically overnight” after announcing the move to $15 an hour.
Hanchar, who told Ruhle they lost count once applications soared into four-figure territory, characterized the move as an investment that hasn’t impacted the bottom line—something that opponents to minimum wage theorize will happen to small businesses like Klavon’s.
“From a top line perspective we have more people coming into our shop as a result of us raising our wage because people want to support a business that’s taking care of their employees,” he said. “Also, our costs are going down as a result of less turnover, and we have not raised prices, so at the end of the day, I have not noticed a difference in our bottom line.”
While the federal minimum wage is parked at $7.25 an hour, some businesses are taking it upon themselves to raise their hourly pay. As Ruhle noted in the lead-in to her interview with Hanchar, Bank of America is boosting its rate to $25 an hour; some industry giants like Amazon, Costco, Target and Walmart have already brought their wages up to $15 an hour.