Walmart’s new minimum wage hike points to enduring retail labor crunch

Walmart’s new minimum wage hike points to enduring retail labor crunch

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Walmart store workers are getting a 17% pay bump thanks to the company’s new minimum wage floor of $14 an hour, the retailer announced on Jan. 24, an indication that service workers are still in short supply.

Store employees will make between $14 and $19 an hour beginning in March, up from current rates of $12 to $18. That brings the average wage of a Walmart store employee to more than $17.50, the company’s CEO wrote in a statement.

Walmart the largest private employer in the US with 1.6 million employees on the payroll also unveiled a raft of other new policy changes aimed at attracting new workers. The company will now offer higher pay for staff in their auto care centers, for instance, and fully fund more college programs for its workers.

Amid the truck driver shortage, Walmart is also looking to ramp up its fleet of commercial truck drivers. Walmart already has a program that helps some supply chain workers earn their commercial driver’s license to become a Walmart truck driver, a job that pays up to $110,000 in the first year. Now it’s opening up that pathway to store associates as well.

Retail workers continue to wield leverage

Despite the so-called “richcession” and an ongoing wave of mass layoffs in the tech, finance and media sectors, retail employers are still facing a tight labor market.

A survey conducted by Lotis Blue Consulting, which they shared with Quartz and expected to release widely Jan. 25, found that pay satisfaction increased by nearly 20 percentage points since April 2022, suggesting that the wage wars of the spring and summer before had a strong impact on decisions to stay with a current employer.

Although many companies have responded to the increased competition for employees by offering better working conditions—there’s been a rise in retention (+6%) and turnover is down (-10%)—employees considering leaving is still trending upward (+5%), which can be thought of as the “quiet quitting” segment of the retail workforce, the report says.

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