Walmart To Raise Base Pay At 1,434 Stores Because Of State Minimum Wage Hikes

As a result of minimum wage increases coming in nearly half of the U.S. states next year, the lowest-paid employees at about 1/3 of Walmart’s U.S. stores are reportedly due for a pay bump in 2015.

Two dozen states and Washington, D.C., are set to introduce minimum wage hikes in 2015. Nearly all of those will kick in during the first month of the year, with a few taking effect later on.

Reuters reports that Walmart recently notified store managers that the changes in local pay regulations means that there will be wage adjustments to make sure that stores are in compliance.

While the lowest paid workers will see a bump to stay in line with the law, Reuters explains there will be a narrowing of the wage gap between low-earning workers and the higher-paid skill job like deli associates and supervisors.

Additionally, Walmart’s three lowest-paid employee types — cashiers, cart-pushers, and maintenance — will be consolidated into the same pay rate.

“Essentially that wage compression at the upper level of the hourly associate is going to help absorb that cost of the wage increase at the lower level,” explains one manager to Reuters.

Walmart has been heavily criticized by labor advocates and unions who claim that the company underpays its more than 1 million employees. The nation’s largest retailer maintains that its average full-time hourly wage is $12.92, but critics say this omits the many employees who are not considered full time because the company has reduced the number of hours they work each week.

Walmart also recently cut insurance benefits for 30,000 part-time workers who had been receiving the coverage.

CEO Doug McMillon also recently stated that only about 6,000 of its workers make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 hour. Again, critics point out that 18 states have already increased their minimum wages in the last few years and the majority of states will be above the $7.25 minimum by 2015.

Walmart has supported previous hikes of the federal minimum wage and has said it won’t fight President Obama’s proposal to increase the federal minimum to $10.10/hour. While it would inevitably compel the company to pay more, it would also mean more spending money in the hands of millions of Walmart customers.