Costco's Profit Soars To $537 Million Just Days After CEO Endorses Minimum Wage Increase

03/12/2013 09:16 am ET | Updated Mar 13, 2013

Less than a week after Costco CEO Craig Jelinek spoke out in favor of raising the minimum wage, the big-box retailer’s earnings showed that paying workers a living wage doesn’t always hurt business.

Costco reported a profit of $537 million last quarter, up from $394 million during the same period last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The healthy earnings report comes just six days after Jelinik urged lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“At Costco, we know that paying employees good wages makes good sense for business,” Jelinik said in a statement last week. “Instead of minimizing wages, we know it's a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty. We support efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.”

Costco is known for paying its workers wages that are generally above average for the retail industry. An average Costco worker made about $45,000 in 2011, according to Fortune. That’s compared to an average of about $17,486 per year for a worker at comparable Walmart-owned Sam’s Club.

And apparently the extra pay pays off. Costco makes more than $10,000 in profits per employee, while Walmart takes home about $7,400 per worker, according to the Daily Beast (Walmart and Costco aren’t exactly the same type of business, however).

In addition to offering its workers high pay and the opportunity to unionize, Costco also provides a benefit many of its competitors don’t: health insurance for part- and full-time employees.

Some analysts have complained in the past that Costco’s worker-friendly policies aren’t so friendly to shareholders. If Tuesday’s results are any indication, those concerns may be exaggerated.

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