Walmart boosts wages, benefits as job market remains tight

Walmart is raising its wage rates for hourly employees starting next month, an indication that the competition for labor remains intense despite concerns about a softening economy.

Our new starting range for entry-level roles is $14-$19 an hour, depending on location,” a Walmart spokesman told SN.

The previous wage floor had been as low as $12, according to reports.

In a letter to all U.S. employees this week, John Furner, president and CEO, Walmart U.S., said the company would invest in increases in both annual raises and in starting hourly wages at thousands of stores, “to ensure we have attractive pay in the markets we operate.”

“We expect these raises will bring our U.S. average hourly wage to more than $17.50,” he said.

In 2021, Walmart had announced plans to boost its average hourly rate to $15.25, which was followed by a pledge from Kroger to increase its average hourly wage to $16. Last year, rival Target said it was raising its starting hourly wage to between $15 and $24 per hour, depending on the job and the local market, along with making enhancements to its health care and other benefits.

Those rates compare with average hourly wages for nonsupervisory retail workers of $19.93 in December of 2022, up from $19.17 a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer, with about 1.7 million workers in the U.S. at the end of its most recent fiscal year. It has previously called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which remains at $7.25 per hour, although several states and metropolitan areas already have much higher minimum wages.

Walmart’s wage-rate increases were among several labor initiatives Furner highlighted in his letter. The others were:

  • Adding new college degrees and certificates to its Live Better U education program, including more options focused on developing skills for new career opportunities. The program is available to both part-time and full-time workers beginning on their first day of work, and Walmart pays 100% of tuition and fees
  • Expanding its Associate-to-Driver Program, which pays for supply chain workers to earn their commercial driver’s license and become a Walmart truck driver, to include store-level workers
  • Introducing a higher-paying Auto Care Center team lead position and elevating the ACC tech position to a higher pay scale.

“We’re proud to continue investing in Walmart’s legacy by introducing new job opportunities and raising pay,” Furner said in the letter. “No matter where you are in your journey, getting your start here can open doors – the first step into jobs that become careers and build better lives.”