Retail

Walmart raises starting hourly wage to $12 in 500 stores, as part of a test

Key Points
  • In roughly 500 stores, Walmart has raised starting hourly pay for the newly created team associate role to $12 from $11.
  • The change is part of a shift to a new workflow model.
  • Walmart, which employs 1.5 million people in the U.S., has been targeted in the past for paying so-called starvation wages.
Cashiers ring up shoppers at a Walmart store in Burbank, California.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walmart is testing a slightly higher minimum wage in a few hundred of its stores, as it rolls out a new, more flexible model for how it manages workflow within the store.

In roughly 500 stores, Walmart has raised starting hourly pay for team associates, a newly created role, to $12 from $11. The company said some of these new hires will work as cashiers, people who help stock shelves and deli workers.

Walmart, the biggest private employer in the nation, said it has no plans to raise wages more broadly.

The goal is to transition from a department model focused on narrow tasks to a more inclusive "team approach," the company said.

The new model ultimately will give lower-level workers in these 500 Walmart locations more responsibilities. The changes also incorporate axing longer-term roles like assistant manager and customer-service manager, replacing them with jobs such as academy trainer, team lead, coach and store lead.

Since workers will receive more training, there will be "wider paths for advancement," a spokesperson said.

"We are really excited about our test that further empowers our associates to take care of customers," Drew Holler, senior vice president of U.S. People and Associate Experience at Walmart, said in an emailed statement. "Our associates are enjoying learning new skills and working on small teams within their store."

Bloomberg first reported Friday morning on the new wages.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who is now chairman of the Business Roundtable, last year told the company's shareholders and presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour was "too low" and Congress should act to change it.

Sanders had criticized Walmart at its annual shareholder meeting for paying so-called starvation wages.

In January 2018, Walmart set its minimum wage at $11 an hour. It is still below Amazon's $15 an hour rate. Target and Costco both also have greater starting hourly pay than Walmart, which employs 1.5 million people in the U.S.

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