Walmart will increase its starting wage to $11

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Target, one of Walmart's top labor competitors, announced they would increase their starting hourly wage to $11 in September, vowing another increase to $15 by 2020. "As you know, the President and Congress have approved a lower business tax rate".

"Today, we are building on investments we've been making in associates, in their wages and skills development", Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said in a news release.

In a statement, the nation's largest private employer said the changes - which will benefit more than 1 million US workers - were prompted by the recent tax overhaul.

The new wages start February 17, 2018 and apply to hourly associates in US stores, Sam's Clubs, logistics and Home Office.

Walmart also announced expansion of its paternal and maternity leave policy, providing full-time hourly employees with 6 weeks of paid paternal leave and 10 weeks of paid maternity leave. It will also offer $5,000 per child in adoption benefits to full-time hourly and salaried employees. The company's revenue for the quarter was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. sell-side analysts forecast that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will post 4.43 earnings per share for the current year.

Walmart, which reported annual revenue of almost $486 billion in the previous fiscal year, said the wage increases will cost it an additional $300 million in the next fiscal year.

Walmart and Target's new minimum wage levels exceed the state minimum wage in all but three states, according to a research note from financial services firm BTIG.

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While employees who have worked at the company for two decades or more will receive a $1,000 bonus, most employees will receive a smaller bonus, with the average coming out to about $190 among the chain's 2.1 million employees.

In the past, Walmart raised starting wages to $9 in 2015 and then $10 for most workers the following year.

"Walmart really started to turn a corner a couple of years ago when it started to simultaneously invest in stores, logistics, e-commerce and employee wages", Perkins told CNBC.

"Given how low unemployment is, they would have had to hike wages anyway, the tax bill just made that move easier", said Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough. The one-time bonus payment increases planned spending by an additional $400 million.

"Investing in employees is beneficial on multiple fronts, including reductions in turnover, as well as potentially enhancing the store experience for customers, which in the current shifting retail environment, is critical for any brick-and-mortar retailer", Moody's lead retail analyst Charlie O'Shea said in a statement.

The wage increase comes as a number of Walmart's competitors have upped minimum hourly wages. One of the debates around the legislation, prior to passage, was what percentage of newly found funds would be passed on to low-wage workers and how much would end up being dropped to the bottom line, used to buy back shares, etc. Costco established a $13.50 minimum wage in 2016.

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