Walmart boosts starting salary to $11 an hour

NATION-WORLD     Walmart raises hourly wage to $11 expands benefits     
       Walmart credited President Trump's tax cut for enabling the new policy

Walmart has announced an increase to its minimum wage and a series of bonuses in light of the Republican tax bill, but the bulk of its corporate tax cut still won't be trickling down to its workers.

Walmart announced Thursday it is raising its starting hourly wage to $11 an hour and providing a one-time bonus ranging from $200 to $1,000 to hourly associates, with larger amounts going to longer-tenured employees.

Hourly employees at its websites, distribution centers and its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, will benefit from the wage increase. The one time bonuses of up to $1,000 will cost the company $400 million, while increasing workers' starting hourly wage from $9 to $11 will cost $300 million on top of pre-planned wage increases.

Walmart employees with 20 years of experience will also pocket a one-time cash bonus of $1,000, dropping in a sliding scale down to $250 for workers with just two years on the job, a spokesman told CNBC.

The wage increase announced Thursday by Walmart benefits all hourly US workers within its stores, Sam's Clubs, eCommerce, logistics and home office.

Walmart's expanded benefits will provide for 10 weeks paid maternity leave and six weeks for parental leave. The company is also creating a new benefit to assist associates with adoption expenses.

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In a letter to workers of the company, CEO Doug McMillon further explained the benefits of the tax plan. "However, some guiding themes are clear and consistent with how we've been investing - lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates and investments in the future of our company, including in technology". The company's revenue for the quarter was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. sell-side analysts forecast that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will post 4.43 earnings per share for the current year. Walmart has a total of 1.5 million employees in the USA and it like other major employers will be closely watched for how they spend their savings from tax cuts.

Walmart says that this is only the start of its plans to offer more benefits to its employees.

The entry of Walmart into the tax-reform debate accelerates the contentious discussion over how much the tax plan, still only weeks old, truly factors into these corporate decisions. Walmart has about 2.1 million employees, which works out to be an average bonus of about $190.

Walmart's efforts in recent years to invest more in stores and its hourly employees is getting high marks from investors as the retailer's financial performance has improved. After boosting wages for some workers to $10-per-hour in 2016, Walmart was already on a path to paying $11-per-hour, especially after Target raised its minimum hourly wage to $11 a year ago.

Wal-Mart's wage hike follows one by Target (TGT), which increased its minimum wage to $11 an hour starting last October. Costco established a $13.50 minimum wage in 2016.

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