Wal-Mart boosts starting wages, pays bonus, expands benefits

NATION-WORLD     Walmart raises hourly wage to $11 expands benefits     
       Walmart credited President Trump's tax cut for enabling the new policy

The company said new investments are also likely coming thanks to tax reform.

The company, which has 1.5 million employees in the US, also said it would expand maternity and paternity leave benefits, as well as give up to $5,000 to employees who are adopting a child. The average wage was $13.56 for regular, full-time hourly associates in Walmart's discount stores, supercenters and neighborhood markets.

Walmart on Thursday responded to recently passed tax reform that reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, announcing its plans to raise the company's starting wage, give employees one-time bonuses, and expand maternity and parental leave benefits.

The retailer also said it was expanding maternity and parental-leave benefits, as well as creating a new benefit to assist with adoption expenses.

Indeed, Walmart had already raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2015, and at the start of 2017 halved the length of the training period workers needed to complete in orders to get a raise to $10.

"Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.", CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC.

"Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.", said chief executive Doug McMillon.

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The mega-retailer announced Thursday that it will be increasing its starting wage rate for hourly workers to $11. Full-time hourly workers in the United States will be eligible for 10 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Christmas is behind us, but for workers at the nation's largest private employer, the giving season continues. Walmart expects its largesse will cost $700 million, but framed it as a way for employees to "share in tax savings" from the tax overhaul that was signed into law in December.

The company, the largest private U.S. employer, is the latest to announce benefits for employees in the wake of the massive corporate tax cut that President Donald Trump pushed for and signed into law just before Christmas.

"We've seen wage stagnation for many years, so it's super important for lower-wage workers to see their wages rise", said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. The payout will cost Walmart a total of $400 million dollars. Hourly workers will be paid between $11 and $24.70 an hour.

There are still problems, labor economists note, with overall wage gains weaker than would be expected with a 4.1 percent unemployment rate, comparatively large numbers of people in part time jobs, and millions of prime age adults between 25 and 54 years old not even looking for work.

"A better solution would be to raise the federal minimum wage and not leave it up to corporations", Gould said.

"That assessment will be done not only through the lens of associates, customers and shareholders, but also within Walmart's financial framework of strong, efficient growth, consistent operating discipline and strategic capital allocation", the company stated.

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