Walmart agrees to raise starting salary, deliver bonuses

NATION-WORLD     Walmart raises hourly wage to $11 expands benefits     
       Walmart credited President Trump's tax cut for enabling the new policy

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would raise starting pay to $11 per hour for all its USA employees and hand out one-time bonuses as competition for low-wage workers intensifies and new tax legislation will add billions to the retailer's profits....

The bonus will range from $200 for employees with less than two years of service (but not getting the starting wage) to $1,000 for those with 20 years of service or more.

Workers in Washington D.C. and the states of California, Washington and MA, already earn at least $11 an hour.

The company is also creating a new benefit that provides financial assistance to its employees who are looking to adopt a child, giving them as much as $5,000 per child to cover expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal costs. The tax law gives the retailer an opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate investment plans for the United States, he said.

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Walmart says the wage increase benefits all hourly USA workers within its stores, including Sam's Club, its website and logistics.

With the wage increase and bonus payment, the company seeks to even its pay gap with resurgent rival Target Corp., while simultaneously sending a high-profile thank you to the US government for slashing the corporate tax rate. That helped spur the long stretch of steady comparable sales growth it has enjoyed recently: When it invested in better pay and more training for workers, that translated into better-stocked shelves and friendlier customer service. A total of 18 states have increased minimum pay this year.

The pay hike at Walmart follows similar actions at rival Target Corp. The company also committed to increasing its minimum hourly wage to $15 by the end of 2020.

Labour groups have said that past rises in wages at the retailer have led to a cut in work hours for employees as the company sought to offset the impact on profits.

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Walmart employs 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the company.

"We think this is a prudent use of tax reform proceeds, as it reinforces the company's commitment to improving in-store service levels and will pressure other retailers to invest more heavily into wages and prices", Ben Bienvenu, an analyst at Stephens, said in a note.

With this move, the world's largest private employer has scored big points with Republican politicians, who now have a talking point for the campaign trail, and maybe also from shoppers who see its wage increase as socially responsible.

Full-time hourly employees will get 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Costco has had a minimum wage of $13.50 since 2016.

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