According to recent reports, Walmart workers will likely see their hourly wages rise, and those raises will not just be limited to minimum wage workers.
Starting next month, the nation’s largest physical retailer has announced raise wages in an attempt to remain competitive in an increasingly job-rich labor market and to combat its endemic turnover.
Though Walmart had initially announced in February a move to a $10 per hour minimum wage, the company amended that position this week to note that those employed by Walmart, as of Dec. 31, would see a 2 percent pay increase. Estimates put the effect of that increase as reaching 1.2 million American workers between Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.
The across-the-board bump came as long-term employees complained that new workers were walking into generous wages, while arguably more valuable players with experience and training were being given no incentive not to take their skills elsewhere.
Walmart is joining in on a national trend that has seen an upward trajectory in minimum starting pay for workers. Twenty states raised their minimum wage in 2015, and both Starbucks and McDonald’s have increased starting salaries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average retail worker in the U.S. made almost $15 an hour in Dec. 2015, a 3.6 percent increase from the same time the previous year.
With Walmart leading the pack, rivals shops, such as Target, are expected to up their pay rates accordingly.
“We constantly evaluate our hourly wage rates and adjust based on changing conditions in each market,” a Target spokesman said.
The reaction to Walmart’s pay raises among current employees has been positive, though many, unsurprisingly, would have liked to have seen a bigger increase.
“At least, they are recognizing that the longtime workers who are already making more than $10 need something,” said Tyfani Faulkner, a former Walmart employee and one of the leaders of OUR Walmart, a group seeking better wages and benefits for retail workers. “I still don’t think 2 percent is enough” for employees that often make so little to begin with, she said.
Whether the raises will stem the turnover wave that is afflicting Wamart remains to be seen. The situation has not improved much since the pay raises were announced last year.
“We always knew it would take a series of things over a number of years to really make a difference,” said Judith McKenna, Walmart’s U.S. chief operating officer. “Wages are only part of it.”