Walmart gives 450,000 employees wage increases amid $15 minimum wage debate

Walmart

Daniel Case | Wikimedia Commons

Jahlil Rush

Walmart made an announcement on Feb. 18 that it will distribute wage increases to 425,000 of its employees.

These employees will soon start to receive an increased average pay of $15 an hour.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillion spoke to CNBC’s Courtney Reagan on Squawk Alley, where he stated that the company supports increasing the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour.

McMillion stated in the interview that Walmart will continue to raise the company’s minimum wage as time progresses, but the minimum wage raises will vary depending on the locations of each store.

Despite the company’s initiative to raise the average pay among its employees, McMillion does not support Biden’s COVID- relief plan that includes raising the federal minimum wage to $15.

Some of the employees who will gain the increased wage will include those with key positions in the company.

Walmart’s starting wage will remain at $11, despite the increase.

Walmart’s retail rivals, including Amazon.com Inc. and Target Corp., have already raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour.

The current administration has also pushed for half of U.S. states to raise their minimum wages to $15. Biden, however, is on record stating that the minimum wage push is unlikely to succeed in COVID-19 relief talks.

Minimum wage in the working force has been a long debate and continues to be discussed.

Some argue that since store employees have been at the frontlines, being dubbed “essential workers” since the pandemic began, they have taken on safety risks. Some workers have also fallen ill, died or passed COVID-19 to family members. These risks then warrant an increase in pay.

While some praise the economic policy for its ability to reduce income inequality, others find that it’s an unfunded mandate that falls on the backs of businesses.

Despite Walmart’s stance against $15 minimum wages, it has still compensated employees for the risks they’re taking by giving $2.8 billion in bonuses in 2020, the company said in December.

Their bonuses could be a factor in their sales increasing by 8.6%in the fourth quarter according to the New York Post.

Walmart’s total revenue increased to a record $152.1 billion, a 7.3%increase from one year ago.

McMillion has said that the goal of increased wages is to create a “ladder” system for worker promotions.

Walmart’s financial move is an indicator that the company is open to increased minimum wage, but wants to take it slow as time progresses by only complying with states’ minimum wage mandates.

“We’re trying to … create this ladder of opportunity, providing an opportunity for people when they start with the company to build a career like so many of us already have,” McMillion said, according to Business Insider.