By Sruthi Ramakrishnan
Walmart Stores (WMT) will raise minimum wages for more than 100,000 of its U.S. workers in some departments starting in July, the second time the world's largest retailer has announced a wage hike this year.
Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States with 1.3 million U.S. workers, has been targeted by labor groups in the past for its minimum wages.
The company said in February that it would raise minimum wages for 500,000 U.S. employees, triggering a wave of wage hikes by retailers and restaurant chains including McDonald's (MCD), Target (TGT) and TJX (TJX).
Walmart said Tuesday that it would increase the wages of managers of service-oriented departments such as electronics and auto care to $13 to $24.70 an hour from $10.30 to $20.09 currently.
Hourly wage of managers of departments such as clothing and consumer products will rise to $10.90 to $20.71 from $9.90 to $19.31.
At specialized areas such as the deli sections, workers will earn $9.90 to $18.81 an hour compared with $9.20 to $18.53 currently.
The Associated Press first reported the news.
Labor and other groups have been pushing for a higher federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009 to $7.25 an hour. In the 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
"[Walmart's wage increases] pretty much ends the debate about whether there should be a minimum wage increase, the question now is exactly how much," Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University, told Reuters.
Walmart will also start paying store associates 10 percent more an hour when they are promoted, starting with their Aug. 13 paycheck, Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said.
This means the minimum increase in hourly wages of an associate who has been promoted will rise to 90 cents from about 50 cents currently.
The wage increases seem aimed at discouraging unionization among workers, Chaison said. "The general feeling is, 'Why join the union to negotiate with Walmart when Walmart takes care of its own?' " he said.
Walmart has 4,540 Walmart stores and about 650 Sam's Club stores in the United States.
The company said in February that it would raise hourly entry-level wages for half a million U.S. employees to at least $9 starting April and then to $10 by Feb. 1, 2016.
Walmart's shares were little changed at $74.61 in late morning trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.
-With additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bangalore.
By Sruthi Ramakrishnan