The raise comes as Walmart fulfills a commitment to increase its minimum hourly wage. Walmart claims that on Feb. 20, the pay raise will be one of the largest single-day, private-sector pay increases ever, and benefiting more than 1.1 million hourly associates.
The new pay plan will include a $10-an-hour wage for all employees hired before Jan. 1, 2016. New entry-level employees will continue to be paid $9 an hour but will move to $10 an hour after completing a new retail skills and training program being offered by the company.
The minimum pay for assistant store managers will also be increased to $45,000 a year. Walmart’s average full-time hourly wage will be $13.38 an hour. The average part-time hourly wage will be $10.58 an hour.
The pay increases come on the heels of Walmart’s recent announcement that it would be closing 269 stores worldwide, including 154 locations in the United States. The closures could eliminate as many as 10,000 jobs in the U.S.
Still Below U.S. Average
The wage hikes also help the retail giant counter some of the bad press it received in the last few years, most notably poor morale among its sales associates and even strikes.
Other retailers are likely to follow suit, including Target, and any other major retailer whose hourly rate is below $10. Nonetheless, the Walmart’s increase is still lower than the average for U.S. retail workers, which according to the Labor Department is $14.95.
Walmart is also implementing new short-term disability and simplified paid time off programs. The combined changes will expand support for associates dealing with extended health issues and provide associates greater control over their paid time away from work.
“We are committed to investing in our associates and to continuing to simplify our business. When we do so, there is no limit to what our associates can accomplish,” said Judith McKenna, chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. “Our customers and associates are noticing a difference. We’re seeing strong increases in both customer experience and associate engagement scores. Five straight quarters of positive comps in our U.S. business is just one example of how helping our associates grow and succeed helps the company do the same.”
We’re seeing strong increases in both customer experience and associate engagement scores. Five straight quarters of positive comps in our U.S. business is just one example of how helping our associates grow and succeed helps the company do the same.”
Critics of Walmart maintain that what the take-home benefits will be for employee’s remains to be seen. Jessica Levin, a spokesperson for Making Change at Walmart, a campaign backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, stated in a release today: “After Walmart’s last wage increase stunt, many workers almost immediately saw their hours cut and take-home pay go down. It’s easier to find a unicorn than a Walmart worker who has received a meaningful raise, or hasn’t had their hours cut.”