This is the week that higher wages – and bonuses worth roughly $9 million – flows from the corporate coffers of Bentonville, Ark. to the paystubs of more than 50,000 Walmart workers in Georgia.
The one-time bonus checks will average between $180 and $220, said a spokeswoman for the company.
The retail behemoth has 211 Walmart and Sam’s Club retail outlets in the state.
Every worker hired before Jan. 1, will earn at least $10 an hour, according to a statement from the company. Those hired after the first will start at $9 an hour and get the hike to $10 after completing an in-house program, the statement said.
Rich, they will not be. But it is, according to the company, “the largest single-day, private sector pay raise in history.”
Not clear exactly what they are comparing it to. Does it beat the best that the Steelworkers did on Day One of a new contract in the heyday of the unions after World War II? Maybe. After all, we’re talking about 1.2 million employees of Walmart and Sam’s Club in the United States.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States.
Walmart for years has been the focus of activists arguing the workers were underpaid and often forced to work under unhealthy or difficult conditions. It has also been the target of union organizing, pretty much in vain.
Pay hikes undermine that talk.
But some analysts have said the higher pay is as much about a tightening labor market as it is about assuaging critics or sandbagging unions: With unemployment falling, it simply costs more to get a dependable worker than it did a few years ago.
Either way, is a pay hike likely to silence critics? Don’t count on it.
Employees will also receive bonuses based on the performance of the store where they work, Walmart said.
Returning some of the money spent by Georgia consumers in the form of fatter paychecks could add a little bit of stimulus to local economy, according to economists.
However, that fuel is just a trickle compared to the flow of Walmart’s spending: the company says it pumped about $20 billion to local suppliers last year and paid $170 million in taxes.