Walmart raises minimum wage as retail labor market remains tight

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An employee arranges gift boxes of beauty products for sale at Wal-Mart Stores Inc in Los Angeles, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walmart On Tuesday, it raised the minimum wage for store workers to $14 an hour, a nearly 17% jump for workers who stock shelves and visit customers.

Starting in early March, store workers will be paid between $14 and $19 an hour. According to Walmart spokeswoman Ann Hatfield, they currently earn between $12 and $18 an hour.

The move is expected to raise the average wage for a U.S. retailer to more than $17.50, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said in a memo to employees Tuesday.

About 340,000 store workers will get a raise because of the move, Hatfield said. That’s about a quarter of Walmart’s 1.3 million employees who work in the field, drive trucks, collect online purchases and serve in stores.

The retail giant, which is the nation’s largest private employer with 1.6 million employees, is raising wages amid annual employee growth. It comes as retailers face a tight labor market despite thousands of job cuts at leading technology companies, banks and media.

In a staff memo, Furner said the pay raise will be part of many employees’ annual raises. Some of those wage increases will also go to store employees who work in more competitive parts of the country’s labor market, the company said.

Walmart also provides other benefits to attract and retain employees. Furner said the company is adding more college degrees and certificates to its Live Better U program, which includes tuition and fees for part-time and full-time workers. It’s also creating higher-paying positions at auto service centers and hiring employees to become truck drivers, jobs that can pay up to $110,000 in the first year.

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