BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Hoping to shed its reputation for offering little more than dead-end jobs, Wal-Mart, the nation’s biggest private employer, is giving raises to nearly a half-million workers and offering what it says are more opportunities for advancement.

Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that as part of $1 billion its spending to change the way it trains and pays workers, the company will give raises to nearly 40 percent of its 1.3 million U.S. employees in the next six months.

In addition to raises, Wal-Mart said it plans to make changes to how workers are scheduled and add training programs for

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