Walmart to Raise Wages Amid Tight Labor Market

January 24, 2023

Walmart said Tuesday it would raise wages for U.S. workers in early March.

Starting that month, minimum hourly wages for Walmart workers are expected to start at $14 while the average wage will be more than $17.50 per hour. 

About 340,000 store employees will get a raise because of the move, Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield said. That’s roughly a quarter of Walmart’s 1.3 million staffers who work in the field, driving trucks, packing up online purchases and serving in stores.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S., with a workforce of some 1.6 million employees. 

The wage increase comes amid a tight labor market. The unemployment rate is currently at 3.5% with more than 1.7 unfilled job openings for every one unemployed jobseeker.

Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) notes that the number of union petitions among the American workforce rose 53% from 2021 to 2022, while the number of employee strikes also rose dramatically. Workers have been protesting wages that haven’t kept up with rising inflation, long hours and difficult work conditions.

That stat, however, is in contrast to the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week releasing data showing that union membership in the U.S. had dropped to a record low of just 10.1% in 2022. There have been scattered attempts by Walmart workers to unionize over the years, but to date none of the retail giant’s workers are union members.

Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said in an employee-wide memo on Tuesday that wage hikes would be part of many employees’ annual increases. Some of the pay increases would also go toward store employees who work in parts of the country where the labor market is more competitive.

Walmart is also trying to attract and retain workers by covering more tuition and college fees for part- and full-time workers through its Live Better U program. Walmart said it also plans to recruit more high-paid workers at its auto centers as well as truck drivers, who can earn as much as $110,000 in their first year.

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