Walmart tests higher hourly starting wages in 500 stores

Walmart says it's testing higher wages for new hourly positions at 500 of its U.S. stores as part of an overall strategy to better empower its staff

NEW YORK -- Walmart says it's testing higher wages for new hourly positions at 500 of its U.S. stores as part of an overall strategy to better empower its staff.

The nation's largest private employer, which operates roughly 4,700 namesake stores in the U.S., says it will be raising the starting hourly wages to $12 from $11 for these new roles.

These workers will be trained and empowered to develop broader retail skills. For example, they'll help solve problems like inventory issues instead of only completing tasks given to them by managers, according to Jami Lamontagne, a Walmart spokeswoman.

Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer of Publicis Communications, applauds Walmart's latest move.

“'Retailers are increasingly in competition for decent workers,” he said. "They have to pay more to get employees who are competent.''

Walmart's initiative was first reported Bloomberg.

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