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Walmart to raise average hourly wage to more than $17.50 an hour

The pay increases reflect the strong demand for workers in lower-paid sectors, despite widespread layoffs in white-collar industries.
Cashiers ring up shoppers at a Walmart store in Burbank, Calif., on Nov. 19, 2018.
Cashiers ring up shoppers at a Walmart store in Burbank, Calif., on Nov. 19, 2018.Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Walmart said Tuesday it would raise the average hourly wage of its associates to more than $17.50 an hour — up from about $17 an hour.

In a note to employees published on Walmart's website, John Furner, the president and CEO of Walmart U.S., said the move is part of an effort to strengthen the retail giant's jobs and invest in its people.

The raise will include a mixture of associates’ regular annual increases and targeted investments in starting rates for thousands of stores "to ensure we have attractive pay in the markets we operate," Furner writes, adding the changes will be reflected in March paychecks.

A Walmart representative also told CNBC on Tuesday that its overall minimum wage would climb to $14 an hour, a roughly 17% jump for workers who stock shelves and serve customers.

The range of salaries for store employees will also climb to $14 to $19 an hour, from $12 to $18 an hour. About 340,000 store employees will get a raise, representing 21% of Walmart’s 1.6 million U.S. employees.

Some of the pay increases will go to store employees who work in parts of the country where the labor market is more competitive, the company said, according to CNBC.

Even as a wave of layoffs has swept across white-collar and tech sectors, there remains strong demand for lower-wage workers throughout the economy. Other large retailers that have announced pay increases in recent months include Amazon, Target and Costco.

"If you were concerned that the recent wave of tech layoffs was a prelude to broad-based job losses, Walmart’s announcement should ease your nerves," Nick Bunker, the economic research director for North America at the Hiring Lab, said in an email.

"Employers don’t raise wages if they think the labor market is about to turn down soon," Bunker said, adding that "employers in many industries, including retail, still face strong competition for new hires and are navigating high turnover rates."

"The labor market for most workers cooled somewhat over 2022, but it’s still hot," he said.