Amid pressure to pay its workforce more, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced it will be raising entry-level wages to $9 an hour. This marks a 24% increase from the U.S. minimum wage.
Wal-Mart Increases Pay For Employees
Starting in April, hourly full-time and part-time employees at Wal-Mart will earn at least $9.00 an hour. That’s $1.75 more than the current federal minimum wage. In Feb, 2016, current workers that are still employed will receive at least $10.00 an hour.
The increases in pay will cost the retailer $1 billion and impact 500,000 employees. Though the company has acknowledged the wage bumps might dent profits, they feel the increased wages will improve customer service over the longer term. Happier employees can only mean happier customer experiences, and thus customers.
Wal-Mart Target of Labor Groups
Wal-Mart has long been the target of labor groups who argue that the company’s low-wages and inflexible scheduling are part of the ever-increasing trend across the nation. This trend has been blamed for the widening gap between the rich and low-income workers. It seems that Wal-Mart has taken a small step towards lessening this gulf. And labor groups are praising this as a step in the right direction, although it has been delayed.
“For years Wal-Mart has kicked and screamed that raising wages was not a feasible business model,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Workers everywhere are glad to see Walmart change their view.”
“Ladder of Opportunity”
CEO Doug McMillon said that he wants Wal-Mart to be a “ladder of opportunity” for employees. The increased wages he feels will help to ensure employees are “highly engaged in our business.” The move has been praised by the White House, which also renewed its call for the Republican Congress to boost the wage on a national level.
“But given their recalcitrance on this because Republicans keep blocking it, we’re going to continue to keep making progress in other ways,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.