Hobby Lobby Increases Full-Time Hourly Wage to $13 Per Hour

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(Memphis) Hobby Lobby, a company based in Oklahoma, announced they're raising hourly wages for full-time employees to $13 per hour, 80 percent more than the federal minimum wage.

Their previous rate was $12 per hour.

Part-time employees will also see a 50-cent increase from $8.50 per hour to $9 per hour.

In total, more than 15,000 employees will see more in their paychecks.

This will be the fourth straight year the company has given out raises.

There are three Memphis area stores, with about 25 full-time employees at each store.

In Bartlett, Manager John Heintz said he told his employees the good news late last week.

He said he has worked for other companies in the past and has never seen raises like this.

Thinking of his previous experience, he said this increase is "very unusual. I've never - we've given merit raises, which we do here also, but never across the board minimum increase."

There are no state minimum wage laws in Tennessee or Mississippi, so federal minimum wage is the rule.

But in Arkansas, the state minimum wage is still set at $6.25 per hour, one of the lowest in the country.

Federal minimum rates apply when the state minimum wage is lower.

Some exceptions may include companies that make less than $500,000 and do not do any interstate commerce.

Those companies can adhere to local minimum wage laws.

The unusual higher hourly rate is something Niki Burross deeply appreciates, especially considering the recession.

Burross frames artwork and memorabilia for Hobby Lobby in Bartlett, "It's really neat working back here because I get to see a lot of artwork and everybody's prized possessions that they have in their house, I get to see and get to put together."

When she was told about the wage increase, she cried.

While one dollar may not seem like a big difference, it adds up to an extra $160 per month before taxes.

That could buy her children new shoes, allow her oldest child to maybe participate in soccer, or simply help pay for daycare.

"It's more than just a dollar for me, because it's more food on the table for my kids, more clothes on their back, and it just means I can be a better mother and take care of them," she said.

Two of her friends recently lost their jobs.

Taking into account how difficult the job market is for many people, Burross said she's lucky to be at a place where she doesn't have to worry as much.

Her manager, John Heintz, explained the company's Christian values, "They believe in rewarding their employees for their hard work and sharing the success of their company."

Heintz said they aren't hiring at the store right now, but will always need seasonal employees when the holidays draw near.