Wal-Mart is raising the minimum wage as the retail job market remains tight

An employee arranges gift boxes for beauty products for sale at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location. In Los Angeles, California.

Patrick T Fallon | bloomberg | Getty Images

Walmart On Tuesday, it said it was raising the minimum wage for store employees to $14 an hour, which is a jump of nearly 17% for workers who stock shelves and attend to customer needs.

Starting in early March, store employees will earn between $14 and $19 an hour. They currently make between $12 and $18 an hour, according to Walmart spokeswoman Ann Hatfield.

With the move, the average U.S. retailer’s wages are expected to be more than $17.50, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said in a staff-level note on Tuesday.

Hatfield said about 340,000 store employees will get a raise because of the move. This represents a pay increase for approximately 21% of Walmart’s 1.6 million employees.

The retail giant, the nation’s largest private employer, is raising wages at an interesting moment. Some economists are calling for a recession. Notable technology companies, media organizations, and banks, incl The GoogleAnd Amazon And Goldman SachsYou have layoffs of thousands of employees They set off alarm bells. Weaker sales trends have pushed retailers incl Messi And lululemonto recently warn investors of a tougher year ahead.

But so far, retailers have largely avoided job cuts. Instead, they are still grappling with a tight job market.

Compared to other industries, retailing tends to have a higher rate of growth than other industries — allowing employers to manage their number by slowing job filling, says Gregory Daco, chief economist at EY Parthenon, the global strategy advisory arm of Ernst & Young. .

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However, he said retailers may also be planning cautiously. Over the past 18 months, they have had to work harder to recruit and retain workers. If they lose too many employees, he said, hiring and training new employees can be costly.

“Any retailer is going to have to think twice and think twice about shedding a good share of its workforce,” he said.

In a Walmart employee note, Forner said the pay rise will be part of the annual raises for many employees. Some of those pay increases will also go to store employees who work in parts of the country where the job market is more competitive, the company said.

Wal-Mart is improving other franchises to attract and retain employees as well. Forner said the company is adding more college degrees and certificates to the Live Better U program, which covers tuition and fees for part- and full-time workers. It’s also creating more high-paying roles at auto care centers and hiring employees to become truck drivers, a job that can pay up to $110,000 in the first year.

This story is evolving. . Please check back for updates

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