Walmart on Thursday announced plans to give some employees a one-time bonus and boost its minimum hourly wage to $11-an indication that the lowest earners in the country are finally starting to see some benefit from the nearly decade-long economic recovery.
Currently, Walmart's starting wage is $9 an hour, which bumps up to $10 after employees complete a training program, per CNBC. "As you know, the President and Congress have approved a lower business tax rate".
In all, more than 1 million Walmart employees will benefit from the bonuses and wage changes. All employees will also receive a one-time bonus, with those who have at least 20 years on the job qualifying for $1,000.
Walmart confirmed Thursday that it is closing dozens of Sam's Club warehouse stores across the country - a move that seems sure to cost jobs - on the same day it announced that it was boosting its starting salary for US workers and handing out one-time bonuses to others. In addition to changing its benefit for mothers, the company will begin offering full-time hourly and salaried associates six weeks of paid parental leave, and associates who adopt a child will receive $5,000 in financial assistance. The adoption benefit may be used to cover adoption agency fees, translation and legal costs.
CEO Doug McMillon said in prepared remarks that it would be "clear and consistent" for the company to put more money toward goals such as lower prices and technology upgrades.
X The retail giant said the wage hike will cost it $300 million in the coming fiscal year, beyond its already-planned wage increases.
Walmart'sstock was up less than half a percent Thursday morning, having rallied more than 45 percent from a year ago. Walmart has a total of 1.5 million employees in the US and it like other major employers will be closely watched for how they spend their savings from tax cuts.
The entry of Walmart into the tax-reform debate accelerates the contentious discussion over how much the tax plan, still only weeks old, truly factors into these corporate decisions. The one-time bonus will amount to $400m in the current fiscal year.
One company putting direct pressure on Walmart is its superstore rival, Target, which raised its own minimum wage to $11 a little over three months ago. More than 600,000 will directly benefit from the minimum wage increase.
AT&T similarly disclosed intentions to invest an additional $1 billion into the U.S.in 2018 and pay a $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T USA employees.
"We believe tax reform is good for our USA economy and are pleased to take these immediate steps to invest in our team members, communities, small businesses, and homeowners", CEO Tim Sloan said in a statement.
Over the past two weeks, dozens of companies have announced major benefits for employees as a result of the corporate tax rate being significantly lowered through Republican tax reform.
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