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News / Business / Clark County Business

Wal-Mart wage hike slight in Washington

Average hourly pay for full-time worker will go from $13.60 to $13.73

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor
Published: December 17, 2015, 4:33pm

Wal-Mart’s promise of wage increases for workers will result in raises for 8,800 workers in Washington, the company said this week.

The retail giant’s new pay scale will raise the average hourly wage for its Washington full-time employees, called associates, to $13.73 per hour, Wal-Mart said. The current average wage is $13.60 per hour, according to its website. The average for part-time associates will be $10.93 per hour.

Nationally, Wal-Mart says it is investing $2.7 billion in associate pay and training. About 500,000 of its 1.3 million U.S. employees are getting raises as part of the new pay policy, and all employees are benefitting from new training programs and more flexible scheduling, according to the company.

The first phase of that investment came in April, when Wal-Mart increased its starting wage to at least $9 per hour. (Washington’s lowest-wage workers were unaffected because the state’s minimum wage this year and in 2016 is $9.47 per hour.) Wal-Mart said it raised wages in July for more than 100,000 associates who work in specialized positions, including deli staff and department managers.

With the upcoming increases in February, Wal-Mart said it will raise wages for associates hired before Jan. 1, 2016, to at least $10 an hour. Hourly managers in some departments will earn at least $15 an hour, according to a recent statement from the company. Associates hired beginning Jan. 1, 2016, will start at $9 per hour in states without a minimum wage that’s higher than that, with an increase following completion of a training program.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., has 69 stores in Washington including 52 supercenters, nine discount stores, five neighborhood markets and three Sam’s Clubs. It has 18,856 employees designated as associates.

In Clark County, the retailer has five supercenters and two neighborhood markets with approximately 1,700 employees.

While Wal-Mart drew public attention and some praise last year in launching its wage increase initiative, some analysts have noted that the company may have been motivated in part by increasing labor competition as the economy improved. Forbes reported in April that Wal-Mart’s average hourly wage is considerably lower than that in the retail sector as a whole and that retail wages are rising more rapidly than the private sector as a whole due to increased demand for retail workers.

The retailer also faced some pushback from its own workforce on the lower-wage worker pay increase. Some Wal-Mart employees have taken to Facebook and made public statements calling the base wage hike unfair to veteran employees who aren’t getting increases and now are making little more than less-experienced colleagues, according to news accounts.

Wal-Mart has struggled in the marketplace as it faces intense competitive pressure from conventional and online retailers. Last month, it reported slightly stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings, with sales at U.S. stores open at least a year up 1.5 percent and customer traffic rising by 1.7 percent. But the company predicted that sales would grow more slowly during the current quarter, which includes the holiday shopping season.

Columbian Business Editor