Walmart has just announced its employees are getting a 17% raise
At a time when Americans are struggling with historic inflation, rising housing costs and elevated gas prices, Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, has announced it’s raising its minimum wage to $14 an hour. The raise is roughly a 17% percentage jump for people who work on the floor of the retail giant.
Walmart has 1.7 million employees in the United States, 94% of which are hourly workers.
The decision doesn’t just benefit Walmart employees. In a country where the federal minimum wage is a paltry $7.25 an hour—and has been for 14 years—Walmart acts as a de facto minimum wage in some parts of the country, especially the South. The highest minimum wage in the U.S. is in Washington State where it’s $15.74.
Twenty states in the U.S. currently have the state minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour or less or have no minimum wage set at all.
In addition to the pay raise, Walmart is expanding its Live Better U program, which covers tuition fees for part- and full-time workers. It will also recruit employees to become truck drivers, who can make up to $110,000 in their first year.
The raise will also put pressure on other employers to raise their pay in areas where Walmart has a strong foothold in the labor market.
The raise will bring Walmart closer to other big-box retailers such as Best Buy, Target and Amazon, which all have a $15 minimum wage.
It’s interesting to note that, for the past decade, there has been a Fight for 15 movement in the U.S. to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour across the country. Although that movement has stalled in many parts of the U.S., the labor market has forced countless retailers to raise their minimum wages to near the magical number.
Walmart is giving raises even though the economy seems to be headed for a recession. But the tight labor market has pushed wages upwards.
Currently, there are 10.5 million job openings in the U.S. and 6 million unemployed people. The labor shortage of 4 million people has meant that employers need to keep their employees happy before they jump ship and look for greener pastures.
The move is also a positive development for Walmart, which has historically paid very low wages to workers, driving down pay across the country because it was such a massive employer. Ten years ago, the average hourly worker at Walmart made $8.81 an hour.
Now, things seem to be going the other way with Walmart being forced to raise its wages to keep up with its competitors.
“We’re proud to continue investing in Walmart’s legacy by introducing new job opportunities and raising pay,” Walmart’s president and CEO John Furne, told employees in a memo announcing the raise. “No matter where you are in your journey, getting your start here can open doors—the first step into jobs that become careers and build better lives. Thank you for all you do to serve our customers and communities every day.”
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