Walmart — Virginia’s second largest employer — ups wages

Published 1:47 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2015

By Matt Leonard
Capital News Service
Special to The Tidewater News

Walmart will soon increase the minimum wage for thousands of its employees, the company announced Thursday. The retail giant is Virginia’s second-largest employer, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. The company is the world’s third-largest employer in Franklin.

Beginning this spring, 500,000 Walmart employees can expect to make $9 an hour. In 2016, that figure will jump to $10 an hour. To give employees a chance to move up the ladder, department manager positions will have a minimum wage of $13 per hour this year and $15 next.

This news comes after Virginia legislators this session considered and rejected six bills to increase the state’s minimum wage. As a result, the minimum wage in Virginia stays at $7.25 an hour, the level specified by federal law.

Walmart’s announcement came in its quarterly earnings report, which showed good news for the company: $1.61 earnings per share.

In an analysis of the decision for The New York Times features called “The Upshot,” Neil Irwin, a senior economics correspondent for the newspaper, suggested that Walmart boosted its pay as a smart business decision, not “for a squishy sense of do-gooderism.” As the U.S. unemployment rate falls, businesses may have trouble attracting and retaining employees.

“Finding qualified workers is harder for employers now than it was then, and their workers are at risk of jumping ship if they don’t receive pay increases or other improvements,” Irwin wrote.