Employment and Jobs

A Retailer Bets on Learning and Development: Goodwill Industries® of San Diego County

February 4, 2019  • Jeannine La Prad, Amanda Newman & Jenny Weissbourd

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Across the United States, a growing number of states and municipalities have passed legislation to raise their minimum wages. This wave of policy changes raises questions about how low-margin industries, including retail, can remain competitive despite increased labor costs.

Much can be learned from Goodwill Industries of San Diego County, a nonprofit organization that generates 96 percent of revenue from its retail operations. Rather than cutting staff in response to San Diego’s minimum wage increase, GISD chose to increase investments in its workforce, including addressing wage compression and strengthening training and development to improve workforce productivity.

This new report highlights how GISD adapted its culture and operations to enhance job quality and business performance in response to minimum wage increases. The authors share four key practices that offer lessons for retailers facing minimum wage increases, seeking to get ahead of minimum wage legislation, or taking steps to improve job quality for their workers. Service providers who work with these businesses can also learn from the strategies outlined in this profile.

Reimagine Retail, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program funded by the Walmart Foundation, explores ways to enhance job quality and improve mobility for the retail workforce. In San Diego, we partner with the San Diego Workforce Partnership, an innovative workforce development board. The Workforce Partnership supports GISD and other employers, providing resources to promote development and advancement opportunities for retail workers.

This new report is the second in a series on promising workforce strategies from across the Reimagine Retail network. We’re excited to share valuable lessons from work on the ground by local Reimagine Retail partners across the country.



Faced with a higher minimum wage, @goodwillsd invested in its workforce rather than cut staff. Learn how GISD enhanced both job quality & business performance.

In a new report, @amandabnewman, @jennyweissbourd, & @jeannine_laprad share key lessons for retailers facing minimum wage increases and taking steps to improve job quality for their workers.

States & cities across the US have raised the minimum wage. How can retail & other industries remain competitive despite higher labor costs?


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Reimagine Retail is a project of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Learn how EOP is helping low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, and other announcements.

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