On Wednesday, Walmart announced that in mid-February, 1.2 million employees at its U.S. stores will be getting a small raise. Hourly wages for full-time Walmart employees will increase from an average of $13 to $13.38 (and for part-time employees, the average wage will go from $10 to $10.58.) Unfortunately, that’s still lower than the average for U.S. retail workers, which according to the Labor Department is $14.95.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the pay increases at America’s largest private employer are an effort to address concerns about new hires getting better pay than long-tenured employees, as well as a way of reducing employee turnover. This is the second round of the multi-stage, wage-raising plan Walmart announced last year.
In 2015, Walmart promised that all of their employees would earn at least $10 by this February. At the time, the move was largely seen as a sign of that the labor market had tightened—unemployment was (and is) steady at 5 percent, making it more difficult for companies to retain low-wage workers. And though the raises aren’t large—it’s not the $15 an hour that advocates have been fighting for—the fact that it was Walmart, a company historically known for underpaying its employees in order to keep prices low, seemed significant in the retail world.