Walmart raises minimal wage as retail job market stays tight

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

Patrick T Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walmart said Tuesday it was raising its minimum wage for store workers to $14 an hour, an increase of about 17% for workers who fill shelves and serve customers.

As of early March, store workers are making between $14 and $19 an hour. They currently make between $12 and $18 an hour, according to Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield.

With the move, the retailer’s average US wage is expected to exceed $17.50, Walmart US CEO John Furner said in an employee-wide memo on Tuesday.

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

The retail giant, which is the country’s largest private employer with 1.6 million employees, is increasing wages as part of its annual staff increase. It comes as retailers continue to grapple with a tight labor market despite job cuts at leading tech companies, banks and media organizations.

In the employee memo, Furner said the pay increase will be part of many employees’ annual increases. Some of those pay increases will also go to store employees working in parts of the country where the job market is more competitive, the company said.

Walmart also sweetens other perks to attract and retain employees. Furner said the company is adding more college degrees and certificates to its Live Better U program, which covers tuition and fees for part-time and full-time employees. It’s also creating more high-paying jobs at its auto care centers and recruiting employees to become truck drivers, a job that can earn up to $110,000 in its first year.

This story evolves. Please check back for updates.

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