Walmart this week confirmed it lowered the starting wage for some new store employees as it seeks pay consistency within its stores, a move industry analysts said could signal good news for employers.
News of the revised compensation structure was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. A Walmart spokesperson confirmed to WGB that the pay change took place in July, saying the action is designed to level pay across the company’s many departments and emphasizing that the wages of current employees are not being cut.
“Consistent starting pay results in consistent staffing and better customer service while also creating new opportunities for associates to gain new skills from experience across the store and lay the groundwork for their career regardless of where they start,” Anne Hatfield, Walmart’s senior director of global communications, said.
She added that about 50,000 more-experienced Walmart workers received raises recently because the retailer raised some of its “pay bands” and said all entry-level wages were raised in January.
Under the revised compensation structure, all new store employees—except those in higher-skilled roles in deli, bakery and auto care center departments—will receive the same entry-level wage.
That hourly wage varies depending on store location and currently ranges from $14 to $19. The minimum wage of $14 per hour has not changed. New store hires will now make the store’s lowest starting wage, unlike previously when some roles received more per hour.
As the country’s largest employer, Walmart serves as a retail bellwether on a variety of fronts.
“We view this update as an indicator that the labor market is becoming more favorable for employers,” a report from financial firm Jeffries stated. “We believe that Walmart is seeing better availability for labor, which gives it the confidence to make this change.”
It is not believed the move will have any immediate financial effect on Walmart’s labor costs.
“The lower starting wages for some new associates should be offset by the wage increases for the effected 50,000 existing associates,” Jeffries said.
Walmart employs about 1.6 million workers in the U.S.