Walmart to raise its starting wage to $11 an hour

NATION-WORLD     Walmart raises hourly wage to $11 expands benefits     
       Walmart credited President Trump's tax cut for enabling the new policy

NATION-WORLD Walmart raises hourly wage to $11 expands benefits Walmart credited President Trump's tax cut for enabling the new policy

Other policy changes Walmart announced Thursday - particularly an expanded parental and maternity leave policy - could further help the retailer attract and retain better workers.

The company is offering a one-time bonus to all full- and part-time employees based on their length of service, rising to $1,000 for employees with 20 years of service.

In addition, Walmart on Thursday unveiled a new benefit for all full-time employees - $5,000 for those who are adopting a child. Employees of those stores would have the option of other positions with Wal-Mart.

The changes follow the passage of the GOP-backed tax reform legislation last month.

The announcement comes after rival Target raised its hourly starting wage to $11 late a year ago, with plans to increase it to $15 by 2020. The payscale for hourly workers will be from $11 to $24.70 per hour, the company said. And New York, Arizona, Colorado, Maine and OR will all reach that level next year, as efforts at the state level to boost livelihoods have gained steam. Additionally, many states have increased their minimum wage above $10.

Shares of the company were down 0.52 percent at $99.15 in early trade.

Walmart's stock was up less than half a percent Thursday morning, having rallied more than 45 percent from a year ago.

The nation's unemployment rate has sat at 4.1 percent for three months now, the lowest level since 2000.

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Even with the wage bump, many workers will struggle if they're the sole breadwinner. About a dozen banks have said they will raise their minimum wages. Walmart has about 2.1 million employees, which works out to be an average bonus of about $190.

"Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.", Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said.

The retailer is also coming off a resurgence in same-store sales in recent years, giving it more of a cushion to boost pay.

Wal-Mart employs about 2.2 million people globally, with more than 1.5 million in the United States and had total global revenue of almost $500 billion past year.

"However, some guiding themes are clear and consistent with how we've been investing - lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates, and investments in the future of our company, including in technology", he added.

With this move, the world's largest private employer has scored big points with Republican politicians, who now have a talking point for the campaign trail, and maybe also from shoppers who see its wage increase as socially responsible.

The retailer has spent about $2.7 billion to increase wages over the past few years. Costco has had a minimum wage of $13.50 since 2016.

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