More than 9,420 Walmart employees in New York and about 500,000 nationwide are receiving pay raises this month.
With the raises for the pay period that started Saturday, all Walmart associates have begun to earn at least $9 an hour. By February 2016, current associates will make at least $10 per hour. The wage increase means Walmart employees earn at least $1.75 an hour more than the federal minimum wage and 25 cents above the current New York State minimum wage of $8.75. The state minimum wage will rise to $9 on Dec. 31.
With the changes, the average hourly wage for full-time Walmart employees in New York is now $13.23. The first paychecks with the higher wages will be delivered April 23.
"From training to flexible scheduling, Walmart has demonstrated a commitment to creating a path forward for its associates, and this pay increase is further proof of that," Kyle Simone, department manager of general merchandise at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, said in a statement. Simone began as an hourly associate.
The pay raises come at a time when the national unemployment rate has dropped to 5.5 percent from 10 percent in October 2009, giving workers more opportunity to search for higher-paying jobs. Walmart, the largest retailer by revenue in the United States, is also facing political pressure to raise wages.
"It's great that Walmart has increased the wages because it only causes a ripple effect to other retailers who are also following Walmart's trends, which is amazing, but we are still fighting for $15 [hourly] because you can't live off $10 on Long Island," said Kimberly Saget, an organizer for Hauppauge-based Long Island Jobs with Justice. The group organizes protests against Walmart to push for higher wages and benefits for employees.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, the biggest private employer in the world with more than 2 million employees, announced its first companywide increase in wages in February. The company said it is also re-examining the department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of them to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.