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Walmart cuts starting wage to maximize workforce ‘consistency’

Retail giant lowers wages in name of “consistency” as tight labor market eases.
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As pay hikes for new hires wind down across the country, Walmart is lowering the starting wage for some positions in the name of consistency.

“Consistent starting pay results in consistent staffing and better customer service while also creating new opportunities for associates to gain new skills from experience across the store and lay the groundwork for their career regardless of where they start,” Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield told Retail Brew in an emailed statement.

Prior to the change, both entry-level stockers and digital fulfillment workers were in many cases paid around $1 more than other entry-level roles. Now, all new hires will make between $14 and $19 per hour, the rates Walmart announced in January.

Hatfield said the change didn’t result in a pay decrease for existing employees, and that ~50,000 workers actually got a pay raise because their wages were below the new minimum. The lower starting wages also don’t apply to more skilled positions in the bakery, deli, and Auto Care Center.

Flexing its muscle: The retail giant said flattening the starting wage for most new hires will make it easier to move employees between departments, because there will no longer be a pay disparity between those positions.

In other words, workers might be less likely to resist being shuffled into a different department where they know the other workers are making less than they are.

The benefit for managers, according to Walmart, is that it will become easier to move staff around in response to changing workforce needs—while the purported benefit for workers is that it will become easier to gain new skills.

The pay restructuring comes after multiple years of Walmart lifting compensation to attract workers in a tight labor market and keep pace with competitors such as Target, which raised its starting range to $15–$24 per hour in 2022.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.