Costco CEO joins effort to raise Maryland's minimum wage

Costco and the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce are among more than 70 businesses and groups that support raising the minimum wage in Maryland, according Raise Maryland, a group advocating for a higher wage.

"We pay a starting hourly wage of $11.50 in all states where we do business, and we are still able to keep our overhead costs low," Craig Jelinek, Costco's president and CEO, said in a statement. "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 minimum wage in Maryland."

Maryland's minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal rate. But 19 states and the District of Columbia pay more, according to Raise Maryland. The state is considering legislation that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour by July 2015, and thereafter increase it for inflation.

Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, submitted testimony in the state legislature last month, saying her small business members favor increasing the minimum wage to put more money in the hands of their customers to spend.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to take up the legislation Thursday.

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