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Wal-Mart pay raise not as generous as some think
Wal-Mart has announced that it will raise its minimum pay for its employees. It has also promised more schedule control as well better training, but that none of that is as good of news as it sounds. - photo by Matthew Jelalian
Wal-Mart's recent decision to raise its minimum wage to $9 an hour may not be as altruistic as some would believe.

The Washington Post reported that Wal-Mart raised its wages to keep it competitive with other companies. This has become increasingly important as the job market has returned back to 2007 levels, encouraging workers to leave low-paying jobs for higher wages.

And theres another reason why Wal-Mart raising wages on its own terms could help employers, wrote The Post. Doing so voluntarily as well as giving employees more control over scheduling, another key demand of labor groups potentially protects Wal-Mart from a greater threat: Labor organizing.

"If employees see that they can win improvements in their working conditions without actually joining a union, they might be less likely to take a step that could give them real bargaining power over the long term.

According to The Daily Beast, the pay raise isnt so generous when inflation is factored in.

For those getting the largest bump from the federal minimum wage to $9, its important to put this all in perspective, wrote The Beast. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. It would take a wage of $8.55 an hour to equal the purchasing power of $7.25 six years ago.

In other words, The Daily Beast reported that Wal-Marts $1.75 pay raise translates to a pay raise of 45 cents when inflation is taken into account.

The world's largest retailer said the increases would cost it $1 billion and impact 500,000 employees, or about 40 percent of its workforce, although the hike falls short of what some labor groups have been agitating for, reported Reuters.

Reuters also reported that the wage increase is a 24 percent increase from the U.S. minimum wage that some employees now earn, succumbing to longstanding pressure to pay its workforce more.

And the wage improvements didn't just impact Wal-Mart's minimum wage workforce.

The company raised the base pay for all employees to a minimum of $10 per hour after a yearlong apprenticeship at $9 per hour, reported Forbes. This good news now sets a new standard for the industry. Beyond the pay increase, the management promised to train associates in customer service and product knowledge.

But according to CBC News, Canadian Wal-Mart employees won't be seeing raises.

"All Wal-Mart Canada jobs start above the minimum wage," Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Alex Roberton said. "In addition, hourly associates working full time at Wal-Mart Canada on average earn significantly above the minimum wages set by provincial governments across Canada which are also generally higher than government set minimum wages in the U.S."
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