CVS Health raises wages, cuts education requirements amid labor shortage


A driver unloads merchandise in New Rochelle, New York, March 16, 2020.

Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As retailers fiercely compete for workers, CVS Health said Wednesday that it is slashing education requirements for job candidates and giving employees a raise.

The drugstore chain said it will boost hourly pay for employees as soon as this month and ultimately hike its minimum wage to $15 an hour, as of July 2022. It said about 65% of employees already make more than $15 an hour.

As part of that new wage structure, the company said some roles — such as pharmacy technicians and call center representatives — will get an increase, too, even though they already have higher starting rates.

CVS Health Chief Executive Karen Lynch said the pay increase will strengthen the company’s workforce as it turns pharmacy locations into health-care hubs with a wider range of services, from diagnostic tests to urgent care appointments.

“Attracting and retaining top talent across our businesses is critical as we continue to redefine what it means to meet people’s health needs,” she said in a news release.

On Wednesday, the company also topped analysts’ expectations for second-quarter earnings and raised its outlook for the year.

Retailers and restaurants have struggled to fill job openings, even as more Americans get Covid-19 vaccinations and unemployment payments have ended in many states. The labor shortage has inspired new recruiting and retention strategies, from wage hikes and bonuses to child-care support.

CVS said it recently got rid of education restrictions that kept some people from getting a job at its stores. It eliminated the requirement for a high school diploma or GED requirement for most entry-level roles, and this year it plans to end its GPA requirement when recruiting at universities.

The health-care company said it is also trying to expand the pool of qualified applicants in other ways and train them for different roles within the company. Last week, CVS opened a new workforce innovation and talent center in Pittsburgh where it works with faith-based and community organizations to find workers and place them in jobs. It opened another location in Philadelphia this week.