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How to Interpret Walmart’s New Wage Hike

Wages are rising at Walmart as America’s biggest retailer also has new job roles for workers hoping to improve their lot in life.

Starting next month, the hourly rates for thousands of store associates will bring the average for U.S. workers to more than $17.50. March 2 paychecks will reflect the increase, Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner wrote to U.S. workers on Tuesday. In addition, the retailer is also adding a higher paying Auto Care Center (ACC) team lead position and elevating the ACC tech position to a higher pay-band, reflecting the special skills needed in that role.

The current $12 starting wage for Walmart store and warehouse staff will rise to $14 an hour, below the $15 an hour average at Amazon and Target. Costco bumped up its minimum wage up $1 to $17 an hour in October 2021. Yet Walmart’s wage increase is better than the $7-$12 range for a sales associate at Dollar General, according to

Furner said the jobs investment will help store associates “gain the skills” to grow a career at Walmart.

“We’re proud to continue investing in Walmart’s legacy by introducing new job opportunities and raising pay. 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,” he wrote.

The changes are in line with “where our business is headed and will equip associates with skills to unlock new career opportunities,” he continued. Walmart’s Associate-to-Driver program that pays for supply chain associates to earn their commercial driver’s license and become a Walmart truck driver whose annual first-year salaries reach $110,000 is now open to store associates.

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In comparison, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington. enforced a minimum $15 hourly wages as of Jan.1. The District of Columbia has the highest minimum wage at $16.10 an hour. New York State is at $14.20, although New York City, Long Island and Westchester is already at $15. The minimum wage is rising nationwide, but nowhere close to $15 an hour. Delaware’s hourly minimum rose to $11.75 from $10.50 at the start of 2023. Nevada will rise to $12 an hour from an average ranging between $9.50 and $10.50 on July 1, 2024, while Florida’s minimum will increase this year to $12 from $11 on Sept. 30. Even the federal minimum wage is set to increase on July 1, when it will rise to $9.50 from $7.25.

ADP’s December data indicates that annual pay rose 7.3 percent year-over-year, although the month also reflected the largest decline in pay growth—the payroll firm’s research on this is only three years old—for those who stayed at their jobs. Workers who changed jobs saw a median pay increase of 15.2 percent, but that also reflected the lowest pay growth in 10 months. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) earlier this month said its data showed that December’s average hourly earnings for employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by just 9 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $32.82. The BLS December report found a 9,000-job gain, essentially unchanged from the prior month.

Walmart’s pay increase comes as layoffs hit a broad swath of the market. is cutting 100 jobs, though that pales in comparison to the combined 50,000 jobs Amazon, Microsoft and Google said they’re dropping in the weeks ahead. That’s not good news for spending this year.

It’s still too early to predict how long the Fed will raise interest rates to tamper inflation. Most economists only expect a 50 basis point increase going forward. They do expect several increases this year, given what is perceived to be a still relatively tight labor market.