Walmart has announced it will be raising wages for about a third of its workforce following a hectic year in the industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Beginning March 13, 425,000 of Walmart’s nearly 1.5 million employees will receive a raise, with starting rates moving to $13-$19 per hour, based on the store’s location and market. The raise only applies to store associates in digital and stocking workgroups, while the minimum starting wage for other workers will remain at $11.
The increase will bring increase its average associate pay to above $15 an hour, the retailer said in its quarterly earnings report.
Last September, Walmart also handed out special COVID-19 bonuses and raised wages for 165,000 of its hourly associates in its Supercenters, creating new “team lead” roles with wage ranges between $18 and $21 an hour. Hourly wages for associates in the deli and bakery areas also went from $11 to $15 or higher, and auto care center workers also saw a pay increase.
The news comes after Walmart reported a historic fourth quarter with just under $100 billion in sales, with their U.S. business growing by $29 billion.
“Whatever your role, know that we’ll continue to support and invest in you,” John Furner, president and CEO, Walmart U.S., said in a memo to employees. “This is especially true for our hourly associates: 75% of our Walmart management team began as hourly associates, and we’re committed to offering strong wages, valuable benefits and training and development opportunities that allow someone to grow a career with us.”
Walmart’s starting minimum wage of $11 still falls short of some competitors, with Target, Costco and Amazon starting employees at $15 an hour or higher.
Target’s wage increase to $15 an hour was announced last June, with the big-box retailer also rolling out a one-time bonus of $200 for the “frontline store and distribution hourly workers for their efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”
Costco increased their minimum wage from $13 to $14 an hour in 2018, followed by a $14 to $15 an hour increase in 2019. In late February, Costco’s CEO announced that the company’s minimum wage would increase to $16 starting in March.
A starting wage of even $11 per hour is still much higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which has remained unchanged since 2009.