By JAMES H. WALLACE January 7 2020
Businesses know the benefits of investing in their employees. Happier workforces lead to better productivity and turnover can be costly — especially in current times of low unemployment.
On Friday, new figures from the Virginia Employment Commission showed the Richmond region unemployment rate was 2.6% in November. The area labor force grew to 694,760, and across Virginia’s 11 major metropolitan areas, unemployment was under 3%. Buchanan County had the highest unemployment rate at 5.5%.
“The competition for talent is on, because low unemployment gives workers more options about where to work,” said Gov. Ralph Northam in November.
Amid the fierce fight for qualified workers, some Virginia employers have voluntarily decided to raise wages. Two hospital systems plan to lift their company minimum wage to $15 per hour.
On Dec. 20, Bon Secours Mercy Health announced the phasing in of higher paychecks by 2022. The RTD reported the raise will reach 1,700 local associates. Bon Secours’ regional footprint spans four area hospitals and dozens of specialty centers, from rheumatology to sleep disorders.
“We are proud to provide our associates a dignified livelihood, which includes a competitive living wage, affordable access to health care, and other programs that support their well-being, in body, mind and spirit,” said Joe Gage, chief human resources officer of Bon Secours Mercy Health in a statement.