Lower taxes and tight labour market prompt Walmart to hike U.S. wages
Walmart will raise entry-level wages for U.S. hourly employees to $11 an hour in February as it benefits from last month`s major overhaul of the U.S. tax code and competes for low wage workers in a tight labour market.
The world`s largest retailer and private employer, officially called Wal-Mart Stores Inc
The pay increase, Walmart`s third minimum wage increase since 2015, and bonus will benefit more than 1 million U.S. hourly workers, it said. Separately on Thursday, Walmart`s Sam`s Club unit said on Twitter that it was shutting a series of stores following a review. It did not say how many.
The Walmart wage hike, taking minimum pay up from the current $10 an hour after in-house training, is aimed at helping the company attract workers at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate is at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low, making it harder to attract and retain minimum wage employees.
Walmart is likely to save billions of dollars from the new tax law, which slashed the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, and the wage hikes will cost the retailer only a fraction of those gains, analysts said.
"Given how low unemployment is, they would have had to hike wages anyway, the tax bill just made that move easier," said Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarborough.
Rival retailer Target Corp
Walmart and Target`s new minimum wage levels exceed the state minimum wage, in all but three states, according to a research note from financial services firm BTIG. Eighteen U.S. states increased their minimum wage on Jan.1 but the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009.
Walmart`s announcement follows companies like AT&T Inc
Democrats have slammed the legislation, which also temporarily reduced tax rates for most individuals, as a giveaway to the wealthy that will widen the rich-poor income gap. President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans have argued that the corporate tax cut will benefit workers and lead to more investment by U.S. companies.
Retailers, in general, have one of the highest average effective tax rates because a majority of their operations are in the United States.
Walmart said the new tax law will create "some financial benefit for the company" and that is it is in the early process of assessing additional investments.
"We are in the early stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us," President and Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in a statement, adding the law is an opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate investment plans for the United States.
Walmart employs about 2.2 million people globally, with more than 1.5 million in the United States, and had total global revenue of nearly $500 billion last year. Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of Walmart`s 4,700 U.S. stores, which sell everything from food and clothes to electronics and sports gear.
Sam`s Club reported the store closures in a tweet after a series of reports from local news outlets said some Sam`s Club stores were closed abruptly on Thursday, with employees learning of the move as they arrived for work. (http://bit.ly/2DjkkWv)ONE-TIME BONUS
The increase in wages will cost approximately $300 million on top of wage hike plans that had been included in next fiscal year`s plans, the company said.
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. Walmart has denied that.
Labour group OUR Walmart called Thursday`s announcement a "substantial step" but said it still fell short of what all employees need to provide for their families. "If Target can raise wages to $15, Walmart most certainly can afford $15 an hour and full-time hours," Carolyn Davis, a 10-year worker from North Carolina, was quoted saying in a note from the group.
Walmart raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2015. In 2016, it said employees who finished an in-house training program would be eligible for $10 an hour. The retailer has spent about $2.7 billion to increase wages over the past few years, which has helped in improving customer service and keeping its stores clean.
Wage investments, store improvements and a steady push towards building an e-commerce infrastructure has helped Walmart outperform rivals for more than three straight years.
The hike announced on Thursday will also increase the average hourly pay for full-time employees to $14.50 from a current $13.85. The payscale for hourly workers will be from $11 to $24.70 per hour, the company said.
The company is offering a one-time bonus to full and part-time employees based on their length of service, rising to $1000 for employees with 20 years of service. The one-time bonus will amount to $400 million in the current fiscal year and the company will take a one-time charge in the fourth-quarter of the current fiscal year to account for the charge.
Shares of the company were up 0.46 percent at $100.13 in afternoon trade.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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