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Walmart Inc., the largest private-sector employer in the US, is raising wages for a swath of its workforce after a surge in inflation last year.

The move will lift Walmart’s average wage to more than $17.50 an hour, John Furner, the head of the company’s US operations, said Tuesday. The new average is about 2.9% more than before, and 6.7% higher than the level disclosed in September 2021. US consumer prices climbed 6.5% in December from a year earlier.

Higher wages will “ensure we have attractive pay in the markets we operate," Furner said in a message to employees. The minimum starting wage at Walmart will rise to at least $14 an hour, up from $12 before, the company said in an email. That’s a gain of 17%, and depending on the location, initial pay for new workers can range as high as $19.

Walmart has been increasing wages and benefits in recent years amid heightened competition for employees, bucking previous efforts to keep pay low. While Walmart’s wage rates typically surpass those of discounters such as Dollar General Corp. and Dollar Tree Inc., its compensation for hourly workers often trails pay at rivals such as Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Amazon. com Inc.

Walmart shares were little changed in New York trading. The stock has advanced less than 1% in 2023, while the S&P 500 gained about 4.5% overe the same period.

The increase in Walmart wages will be fueled by regular annual raises and “targeted investments in starting rates for thousands of stores," Furner said. The bump in pay will be reflected in March 2 paychecks.

Furner said Walmart is creating new, higher-paying team lead jobs at its automobile-care centers. The company is elevating tech positions at the centers to a higher pay scale “that reflects the special skills needed for the role and its importance to our business."

Walmart is also adding new college degrees and certificates to its program that pays tuition and fees for employees. Earlier this month, the retailer said it was expanding an initiative to train supply-chain associates as truck drivers who can earn as much as $110,000 in their first year.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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