Walmart to raise wages for 100,000 workers

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is raising starting wages for more than 100,000 U.S. employees, beginning in July. The first wage hike is targeted at department managers and workers in specialized departments. 

The initiative is the first in a series of moves intended to improve wages at the company. Walmart will raise the minimum wage for entry-level and long-term hourly employees to $10, starting next February, the Associated Press reported.

Walmart announced in February that it would embark on a year-long $1 billion plan to raise its minimum wage, improve employee training programs and give hourly workers more control over their schedules.

The wage increases will affect department managers of complex, service-oriented jobs in departments such as produce, electronics and auto care, Walmart told the AP. These employees will earn $13 an hour, with wages capped at $24.70 per hour, beginning in July. The move represents an increase from the previous starting wage of $10.30 and pay cap of $20.09. In February 2016, these employees will begin receiving $15 per hour.

Managers of departments that are considered to make fewer service-assisted sales, such as apparel and consumables, will earn from $10.90 to $20.71 per hour. Previously, they earned from $9.90 to $19.31.

Walmart is also phasing out the zone manager position, transitioning those employees to assistant or department managers as part of a previously announced initiative to simplify roles. The company will also be adding up to 8,000 additional department manager jobs, according to the AP.

"There's a lot of excitement about the new department managers, the level of ownership they take," said Kristin Oliver, executive VP of people for Walmart's U.S. division. "Walmart is already testing new department managers in roughly 450 U.S. stores."

The retailer is gearing up for its annual shareholder meeting on Friday with a week of events for visiting associates and select media. Last year, new CEO Doug McMillan told the press that Walmart would raise its minimum wage, but not until its competitors did so as well.

There has been a growing movement to raise wages for hourly workers at U.S. merchants and large companies. Walmart and McDonald's have pledged to increase wages in the face of growing pressure from workers, consumers and governments, both local and federal.

For more:
-See this Associated Press story

Related news:
Walmart leaks details of unlimited shipping service
Walmart's e-commerce up 17%
Walmart to test free shipping, add Alipay in Chinese stores
Walmart's plan to win back shoppers
Walmart pressures suppliers to reduce prices