Walmart again lifted wages at US stores, an indication of persistent strong demand for frontline workers

New York (AFP) - Walmart announced Tuesday it will again raise pay for hourly staff, an indication of persistent tightness in the labor market for front-line employees despite layoffs in the tech sector.

The retail giant, the biggest private employer in the United States, is boosting the pay range at US stores to between $14 and $19 an hour from the prior $12 to $18 an hour.

That lifts Walmart’s minimum wage to $14 an hour, well above the $7.25 federal minimum wage, but below California and some other states and jurisdictions that have set the level at $15 or greater.

Rival chains such as Amazon and Target also currently have a $15 minimum wage.

Walmart said its latest hike lifts its national wage average to more than $17.50 an hour beginning March 2.

The company also announced other perks for employees, including new job-training opportunities and an expansion in a program that helps supply chain workers obtain a commercial driver’s license.

The retailer’s announcement is a sign that the job market remains tight for hourly staff, even as tech giants such as Google parent Alphabet and Facebook parent Meta announce significant job cuts.

Walmart has undertaken a series of wage hikes during the pandemic, including in September 2021 when the starting wage was boosted to $12 to $17 an hour.

US unemployment dipped to 3.5 percent in December as employers added a surprisingly robust 223,000 jobs, according to government data.