Walmart To Raise Wages for Approximately 500,000 Workers

The retailer is the largest private employer of African-American workers in the U.S.

By Frederick H. Lowe

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the target of worker demonstrations demanding higher wages, announced on Thursday that it was putting more money in employees’ wallets and pocketbooks.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote in his blog that entry-level workers will receive at least $9 per hour in the first half of the current fiscal year.  All current associates will earn at least $10 per hour beginning February 1, 2016.

The wage increase will affect approximately  500,00 part-time and full-time Wal-Mart U.S. and Sam’s Club employees, which is about 40 percent of the retailer’s workforce.

Wal-Mart is raising the wages for 500,000 workers.

Walmart is raising the wages for 500,000 workers.

Walmart is the largest private employer of African-American workers in the U.S.  Nearly 20 percent of Walmart’s 1.3 million workers in 2014 were black, according to the organization “Making Change at Walmart.” Many black employees worked part time but wanted full-time work. The fight for a livable wage is a major civil rights issue for African Americans.

The increase to $9 per hour is $1.75 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

“Today, we’re announcing a package of changes in Walmart U.S. that will kick off a new approach to our jobs. We are pursuing comprehensive changes to our hiring, training, compensation and scheduling programs, as well as to our store structure, and these changes will be sustainable over the long term,” Millon said. “One of the most immediate changes is that we’ll raise our starting pay, and we’ll provide opportunities for further raises based on performance.”

Wal-Stores Inc. announced the pay raise during the release of its fourth-quarter financials. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company reported a fourth-quarter net income of $5.18 billion, up 11% percent compared with $4.65 billion for the same 13-week period in 2014.

The retailer reported fourth-quarter revenues $131.56 billion, up 1.4 %  compared to $129.70 billion for the same 13-week period last year.

President Barack Obama praised Walmart’s decision, but the market didn’t like the news. Investors hammered the company’s stock.  On Thursday, the stock closed at $83.52, down $2.77 per share.

Wal-Mart is the world’s second-largest company based on annual revenues. The company reported annual revenues of $482.22 billion for the 2015 fiscal year.

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