St. Petersburg's C1 Bank adopts 'living wage rate' for all employees

Published Mar. 27, 2014

As a national debate over raising the minimum wage rages on, a St. Petersburg-based community bank has decided to act on its own.

C1 Bank said Wednesday that it's establishing a minimum "living wage rate" of $14 per hour for its full-time employees.

The change will increase the pay of 27 of its 217 employees. Increases will range from 1 percent to 30 percent for the affected workers, primarily newer, front-line employees at some of its 27 branches and downtown St. Petersburg headquarters.

CEO Trevor Burgess said his incentive was two-fold: to help recruit the best employees and to reflect the bank's core values.

"We thought it was the ethical thing to do," he said. "We wanted to make sure the people who work for us are benefiting from our success and can earn a living wage."

Moreover, it makes good business sense in recruiting and retaining the highest-quality workers, Burgess said. "We really think it's an investment that will pay back in spades."

A living wage is typically defined as the wage rate required to meet minimum living standards within a community. It's usually higher than the state or federal minimum wage. Florida's current minimum wage is $7.93 an hour.

In researching the hourly rate, C1 executives wanted to get wages close to $30,000 a year and also raise the rate high enough to impact a significant number of employees. They also used MIT's living wage calculator, the results of which vary depending on family size, so C1 used a "blended approximation" of family size to come up with a number.

Burgess said he and C1 Bank director Marcelo Lima had been discussing the issue for months, and it moved to the front burner in February after clothing retailer Gap announced it was hiking its in-house minimum wage to $10 an hour.

C1's higher wage rate goes into effect Tuesday. Burgess declined to say how much the move would cost the bank.