Walmart will increase the average hourly wage to more than $17.50 per hour

Walmart said Tuesday it would increase the average hourly wage for its associates to more than $17.50 an hour, up from $17 an hour.

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

The increase will include a combination of regular annual associate raises and targeted investments in start-up fees for thousands of stores, “to ensure we have attractive wages in the markets in which we operate,” Furner writes, adding that the changes will be reflected in March paychecks.

A Walmart representative also told CNBC on Tuesday that its general minimum wage would rise to $14 an hour, an increase of about 17% for workers who stock shelves and serve customers.

The wage range for store clerks will also rise to between $14 and $19 an hour, from $12 to $18 an hour. Some 340,000 store employees will get a raise, representing 21% of Walmart’s 1.6 million US employees.

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

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

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

“Employers don’t raise wages if they think the job market is about to go down soon,” Bunker said, adding that “employers in many industries, including retail, still face stiff competition for new hires and are face high turnover rates.

“The job market for most workers cooled down a bit during 2022, but it’s still hot,” he said.

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