Give a hand to those who share the tax-cut wealth

Bancorp South will give raises or bonuses to 96 percent of its employees in 2018.
Bancorp South will give raises or bonuses to 96 percent of its employees in 2018. Sun Herald File

We are happy for the thousands of employees who’ll be getting raises this year.

There are the employees of Regions Financial Corp., where the minimum pay will go up from about $12 an hour to $15 an hour. That’s a sizable raise and money that will percolate through the economy for years.

BancorpSouth Banking, a Tupelo-based company with locations on the Coast, will give raises or bonuses to 96 percent of its employees, an investment of $10 million in its people in 2018 alone.

Nationwide Insurance will give 29,000 employees a $1,000 bonus and will increase 401k contributions. Waste Management said it will give $2,000 bonuses to up to 34,000 employees. Wells Fargo raised base wages from $13.50 to $15.

The conservative Americans for Tax Reform said it estimates 2 million Americans will receive bonuses linked by their bosses to the tax reform bill passed late last year.

That tax plan hasn’t kicked in yet, but corporations clearly see a windfall coming their way and many have chosen to pass a bit of those gains on to their employees.

Critics are calling it a PR stunt given the relatively small slice of the tax savings that is being passed along. It certainly is good PR.

But we expect the employees appreciate the extra money just the same. Could many of the corporations afford even larger raises? Of course. We hope the raises are just a down payment on regular salary increases.

In many instances, employees haven’t shared in the success of the companies they work for as the economy started to turn around after the Great Recession. Families have been buffeted by the twin forces of layoffs and stagnant wages. They have sacrificed to help their companies through rough times.

This seems to be an indication that is changing. And it should. It is good to see loyalty rewarded.

Now, the raises have not been a PR bonanza for all. Some corporations have been called out for announcing raises or bonuses, only to announce layoffs almost in the same breath. And they should be called out.

But that should not take away from signs that dozens of companies are recognizing their employees’ contributions to their success.

“We understand that the growth of our company is based on the economic vitality of the communities where we do business, as well as the work from our team of talented associates who are committed to serving our customers every day,” said Regions Chairman and CEO Grayson Hall in a press release announcing the raises. “The investments we are announcing today in our workforce, our communities and our company reflect our commitment to creating shared value and will support sustainable growth that ultimately benefits our customers and shareholders.”

We won’t know for some time if the tax overhaul will bring the promised economic expansion. But these CEOs certainly seem optimistic it will.

We hope they are correct.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.