April 25, 2018

Walmart hikes minimum wage, announces layoffs on same day

12 January 2018, 12:13 | Kenneth Drake

MoreCloseclosemoreCustomers shop at a Walmart store in January 2017 in Skokie Illinois

Customers shop at a Walmart store in January 2017 in Skokie Illinois

"This is nothing but another public relations stunt from Walmart to distract from the reality that they are laying off thousands of workers", said Randy Parraz, a director of Making Change at Walmart.

Sam's Club has not said how many employees are losing their jobs.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Jan. 11, 2018 - Today, Walmart announced plans to increase the starting wage rate for all hourly associates in the $11, expand maternity and parental leave benefits and provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates of up to $1,000.

The layoffs went unaddressed but the wage increase attracted praise from the White House. "It's our people who make the difference and we appreciate how they work hard to make every day easier for busy families".

But Walmart is joining other corporations and banks like Wells Fargo and Fifth Third BankCorp which also announced the tax bill made it possible for them to raise the minimum wage for their workers. For some part-time and full-time workers, the company plans to give one-time cash bonuses ranging from $200 (for workers who have been at Wal-Mart for two to four years) to $1,000 (for those who have been working there for 20 or more years). Walmart is also amping up its paid maternity leave to 10 weeks, and paid parental leave to six weeks.

Walmart Stores Inc. on Thursday announced that it would raise the minimum hourly rate for its USA workers to $11, according to various media outlets, in a move that could have ripple effects in the middle-market retail economy.

While the new law will create some financial benefit for the company, Walmart is early in the process of assessing potential additional investments.

The retailer is boosting starting hourly wages to $11 an hour.

Even at $11 an hour, however, many employees will struggle to get by. Eighteen US states increased their minimum wage on Jan 1 but the federal minimum wage has been US$7.25 since 2009. President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans have argued that the corporate tax cut will benefit workers and lead to more investment by US companies. Around three-quarters of that comes from the United States, which suggests a tax savings of $2.1 billion. The company is also creating a new benefit to assist associates with adoption expenses.

The retailer said Thursday that changes to its compensation and benefits policy will impact more than a million hourly workers in the U.S. The company employs 1.5 million people in the U.S.

While many of those criticisms are still being expressed loudly, many American companies are celebrating the changes - and some are passing it on to their employees. Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of Walmart's 4,700 US stores, which sell everything from food and clothes to electronics and sports gear. The starting pay for all hourly Walmart employees is now $9, or $10 for those who completed a training program. The retailer has spent about $2.7 billion to increase wages over the past few years, which has helped in improving customer service and keeping its stores clean. Job postings at an Amazon warehouse in OH, for example, offer a starting pay of $14.50 an hour.

Walmart is the latest in a long line of companies that have announced some kind of a raise, bonus or increase in benefits following the passage of the 2017 tax bill.

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