The United States has not raised the minimum wage for the country as a whole since 2009, set at $7.25 an hour (about 6.7 euros, at the current exchange rate). Almost half of the states in the country have set higher starting levels. Now, who has taken the step is the company that employs the largest number of workers in the US, the distribution giant WalMart. The company has decided to raise the minimum paid to its workers from 12 to 14 dollars an hour, 16.7%.
The company has already raised the minimum wage of its employees from 11 to 12 dollars in 2021, after three years in which it had not moved. With the new rise, they gain some purchasing power in the face of inflation that reached 9.1% in mid-2022 and closed the year at 6.5%. It is quite a sign in a labor market in which the unemployment rate is 3.5%, the lowest in the last half century. Companies are having trouble getting employees (or keeping the ones they already have). Given this, they are choosing to raise wages, as the example of Walmart shows.
The head of the business in the United States, John Furner, has communicated the decision to raise salaries in a message to the staff: “Starting next month, we will begin to invest in higher salaries,” he said. The increases will be reflected in the payrolls of the next March 2, he has specified. The measure includes a combination of the usual annual increases for employees and specific increases in the starting salaries of thousands of stores, “to guarantee attractive remuneration in the markets” in which the group operates. “We expect these increases to bring the median hourly wage in the United States above $17.50,” Furner added.
With the hikes, Walmart store employees like stock clerks and cashiers will earn between $14 and $19 an hour, up from the current range of $12 to $18. The group has 2.3 million employees worldwide, of which approximately 1.6 million are in the United States. Several hundred thousand will benefit from the improvements.
Walmart’s wages had fallen well below those of other competing companies in its industry. Companies like Costco, Best Buy, Target, Aldi or even the e-commerce giant Amazon, the second largest US company with the largest workforce, pay at least $15 an hour of minimum wage. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said last year that the minimum wage should rise across the country to around $15, more than double what it currently is.
The setting of the minimum wage depends on Congress. The Democrats are in favor of raising it considerably, but they do not have a majority for it. In the United States, the median wage for all non-agricultural workers is $32.82 an hour, according to the latest statistics.
Along with the salary increase, Walmart has also announced that it will include new degrees and university certificates in its Live Better U educational program, for which employees who want to study are awarded scholarships.
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