Entrepreneur Reads Study, Will Pay All Workers $70K
Dan Price wants his employees to be as happy as possible
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2015 8:49 AM CDT
A US Coast Guard response boat drives past the Seattle skyline as it returns from a cargo ship inspection mission in Elliott Bay near Seattle, Sept. 9, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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(Newser) – A number of studies have been done to determine exactly how much income we need to reach our happiness peak, and Dan Price read one that pegged the magic number at about $70,000 per year. But Price, the owner of a credit-card payment processing company, didn't just read about the study: He decided to put it into action. Yesterday, he told his 120 employees at Gravity Payments in Seattle that over the next three years, he'll gradually raise salaries until everyone in the company is making at least $70,000. It wasn't just the article that convinced him to make his move: He spoke to friends who "walk[ed] me through the math of making 40 grand a year," he tells the New York Times, and what they said about rent increases and credit card debt "just eats at me inside."

He wanted to put his plan into action without an increase in price or a decrease in service for his customers, so he plans to pay for the salary increases by using up 75% to 80% of the company's profits this year—and by cutting his own salary from almost $1 million to, yes, $70,000. And there it will stay until the company gets back to the same level of profit it had before he made this change, he says. Currently, the average salary at Gravity Payments, which Price founded in 2004 as a 19-year-old Seattle Pacific University student, is $48,000; as part of Price's plan, about 70 employees will see their wages increase—30 will actually see their wages double. It's not the first time Price has made a similar move: In 2013, when a 2% payroll tax increase went into effect, he responded by giving all his employees making less than $100,000 a 2% raise, GeekWire reports.