Walmart raises starting wages, offers bonuses

Posted: Updated:

By JOSEPH PISANI and MICHELLE CHAPMAN
AP Business Writers

NEW YORK (AP) -- Walmart, the world's largest private employer, is boosting its starting salary for U.S. workers to $11 an hour, handing out one-time cash bonuses to those who don't benefit from the pay hike and expanding its maternity and parental leave benefits.

The company said the moves that will affect more than a million hourly workers in the U.S. are tied to recently enacted tax legislation that will save it money. They do also reflect the tight labor market in which employers are competing for workers, as both Walmart and its rival Target have been raising wages for the past few years.

"Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S," CEO Doug McMillon said Thursday. President Donald Trump cheered the announcement with a tweet, saying, "Great news, as a result of our TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT!"

Dozens of other companies have announced worker bonuses following the passage of the Republican tax plan, such as AT&T and Comcast. Large employers also have been under pressure to boost benefits for workers because unemployment rates are at historic lows, allowing job seekers to be pickier.

The nation's unemployment rate has sat at 4.1 percent for three months now, the lowest level since 2000. The average for hourly earnings rose 2.5 percent in December from a year earlier. Still, that's about a full percentage point lower than is typical in a healthy economy. And wages for hourly retail workers have risen less than 9 percent since 1990, compared with 18 percent for overall workers in the private sector.

Walmart says the wage increase benefits all hourly U.S. workers within its stores, including Sam's Club, its website and logistics. The company had raised its starting wage to $9 an hour in 2015, and says workers could go up to $10 an hour after completing an entry-level training program. Rival Target Corp. had raised its minimum hourly wage to $11 in October, and said it would raise wages to $15 by the end of 2020.

The one-time bonus between $200 and $1,000 based will be given to Walmart employees that won't receive a pay raise. The bonus is based on length of service, with workers with at least 20 years qualifying for $1,000. In all, Walmart employs 2.3 million people around the world, 1.5 million of which are in the U.S.

Walmart has invested $2.7 billion in higher wages and training for workers to lower turnover and make the shopping experience more appealing. It has done well and strengthened its hand in online retail as many other retailers have struggled.

Parental leave has been another area in which retailers including Target and Ikea have been trying to offer better benefits. Walmart on Thursday promised full-time hourly U.S. employees 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried employees will also receive six weeks of paid parental leave.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company also promised help with adoptions, offering full-time hourly and salaried workers $5,000 per child that can be used for expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal or court costs.

In offering the bonuses, Walmart joins companies including American Airlines, AT&T and Bank of America that have announced $1,000 worker payouts following the passage of the Republican tax plan that slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The companies say the bonuses they've announced are a way to share some of their bounty with their workers, though in some cases it's a very small percentage of their gains.

One-time payouts are far less valuable to employees than permanent pay raises. About a dozen banks have said they will raise their minimum wages. A handful of mostly small companies have announced pay increases for most of their workforces. And a few have said they will raise their contributions to their employees' retirement plans.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • News

    Clifton police investigate possible child luring attempt

    Clifton police investigate possible child luring attempt

    Thursday, October 18 2018 7:40 PM EDT2018-10-18 23:40:07 GMT
    Police: Man attempted to lure young girl into van in CliftonPolice: Man attempted to lure young girl into van in Clifton

    Clifton police have issued a warning to the community after a possible attempted child luring incident.

    Clifton police have issued a warning to the community after a possible attempted child luring incident.

  • Forecast: Freeze warnings overnight; temps around 60 Friday

    Forecast: Freeze warnings overnight; temps around 60 Friday

    Freeze warnings and watches in effect overnight as temperature are expected to be in the mid-30s.

    Freeze warnings and watches in effect overnight as temperature are expected to be in the mid-30s.

  • News

    $1 million Powerball ticket sold in New Jersey

    $1 million Powerball ticket sold in New Jersey

    Thursday, October 18 2018 12:23 PM EDT2018-10-18 16:23:11 GMT
    $1 million Powerball ticket sold in New Jersey$1 million Powerball ticket sold in New Jersey

    A $1 million ticket was sold at a Shop-Rite in Morris County that matched five of the five white balls from Wednesday evening's drawings.

    A $1 million ticket was sold at a Shop-Rite in Morris County that matched five of the five white balls from Wednesday evening's drawings.

  • New Jersey SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Just Married in New Jersey

    Just Married in New Jersey

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding.News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding.

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding. If you were married in the past 90 days, please submit your photos via Twitter or Instagram using #JustMarriedNJ.  

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding. If you were married in the past 90 days, please submit your photos via Twitter or Instagram using #JustMarriedNJ.  

  • Your 2018 New Jersey Fall Fun Photos

    Your 2018 New Jersey Fall Fun Photos

    Wednesday, September 5 2018 2:18 PM EDT2018-09-05 18:18:06 GMT
    Send us your Fall Fun Pics!Send us your Fall Fun Pics!

    Is fall your favorite season? Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 New Jersey want to see your Fall Fun pics! Send them via Twitter or Instagram with the #NJFallFun and they might end up on air or on News12.com.

    Is fall your favorite season? Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 New Jersey want to see your Fall Fun pics! Send them via Twitter or Instagram with the #NJFallFun and they might end up on air or on News12.com.

  • Workers wanted: Companies hiring for the holidays

    Workers wanted: Companies hiring for the holidays

    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.
    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.

    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season. 

    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season. 

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."