Walmart, America’s largest private employer, said it will raise wages for 425,000 US workers — more than a fourth of its workforce — to at least $13 an hour.
Overall, approximately half of Walmart employees— around 730,000—will earn at least $15 an hour.
“These are investments in people that are important to our future because they provide a great pickup, delivery and in-store experience for our customers,” Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said during a presentation to Wall Street analysts.
Walmart will still maintain its $11 minimum wage, putting it behind some other big chains.
Harry Holzer, professor of public policy at Georgetown University who studies the minimum wage, said in an email that Walmart is “trying to stay ahead of the curve, and not fall much behind other retailers” that have hiked wages, such as Amazon, as well as cities and states that are raising their minimum wages.
The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.
McMillon said Thursday that a $15 minimum wage was “an important target, but also think that should be paced in a way that’s good for the US economy.”
The latest pay raises are targeted at workers that “tend to have been with us for a longer period of time than someone that might be earning the entry wage,” McMillon said. “We’re trying to move that average up” and create incentives for employees to remain with Walmart.
He added that Walmart “will be sensitive to geographies. There are parts of the country where the starting wage should be lower than others.”