Walmart Raises Hourly Wages, Hands out $1K bonuses

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In addition to the minimum wage increase and bonuses, Walmart announced other benefit increases. The combined wage and benefit changes will benefit the company's more than one million USA hourly associates. Dow futures have been above 18,500 since election day 2016 and the USA stock market has not faltered in the Trump-era. The black unemployment rate is at 6.8% - its lowest on record since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting in 1972.

Walmart announced Thursday it will raise the minimum wage for United States workers to $11 (R136.29) an hour and pay bonuses, crediting the U.S. tax reform approved in December for making the changes possible.

Anne Hatfield: "It results in happier associates, more productive people and folks who want to better serve our customers, but it also helps them better provide for their families, not only with the wage increase, the cash bonuses, but also the parental leave benefits, child adoption credit". Several companies have since announced plans to invest more back into their employees.

The Walmart bonuses are based on how long employees have worked with the company.

"Walmart has made similar announcements in the recent past ... even when no tax reform could have affected its decision", said Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution. 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.

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But, Gordon said, the move indicates that "the corporate tax cut's touted trickle-down effects that were met with skepticism by critics may be happening". The bonuses will cost it about $400 million in this fiscal year, which ends on January 31.

All full and part-time hourly associates in the USA are eligible for the bonus, which will be based on length of service up to $1,000 for those with at least 20 years of employment. Previously, birthing mothers got six to eight weeks at half pay. Salaried employees will receive six weeks of paid parental leave.

A spokesperson from Walmart told CNBC that Walmart and Sam's Clubs, while they fall under the same parent company, are in two different parts of the business.

The changes affect more than 1 million hourly associates. The average for hourly earnings rose 2.5 percent in December from a year earlier - about a full percentage point lower than is typical in a healthy economy.

McMillon said Walmart will give the one-time bonuses to hourly workers who already earn more than $11. Parraz, however, argues the recently announced wage increase falls short of an acceptable amount.

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