Walmart to hike wages for 425,000 workers to average above $15 an hour

A worker is seen wearing a mask while organizing merchandise at a Walmart store, in North Brunswick, New Jersey, July 20, 2020.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

Walmart announced Thursday it will raise pay for workers to an average above $15 an hour, giving a boost to 425,000 employees.

Walmart said its minimum starting wage for workers will remain at $11 an hour. Its U.S. workforce numbers about 1.5 million people, making it the nation’s largest private employer.

The big-box retailer made the announcement as it reported holiday-quarter earnings that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, weighed down by Covid-related expenses and heightened investments in e-commerce. Walmart also cautioned that it expects its sales growth to moderate this year.

Walmart shares were down nearly 5% in premarket trading.

Beginning March 13, the company said, pay for store workers in digital and stocking positions will go up to $13 to $19 an hour, depending on store location.

Rivals Amazon and Target have made their starting pay $15 an hour, and the Biden administration and Congress are considering hiking the federal minimum wage to that level from $7.25 per hour.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who is also chairman of the Business Roundtable, has previously said that the retailer believes the federal minimum wage should be higher.

—CNBC’s Melissa Repko contributed to this reporting.

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