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Walmart raises starting wages, handing out bonuses

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, is boosting its starting salary for U.S. workers to $11 an hour, giving a one-time cash bonus of up to $1,000 to eligible employees and expanding its maternity and parental leave benefits.

The retailer said Thursday that changes to its compensation and benefits policy will impact more than a million hourly workers in the U.S. The company employs 1.5 million people in the U.S.

The wage increase, up from $9 per hour for new workers, comes into play next month.

The company is also creating a new benefit to assist employees with adoption expenses.

CEO Doug McMillon said in prepared statement that recently enacted tax legislation “gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.

Large employers have been under pressure to boost benefits for workers because unemployment rates are at historic lows, allowing job seekers to be pickier.

The nation’s unemployment rate has sat at 4.1 percent for three months now, the lowest level since 2000. The average for hourly earnings rose 2.5 percent in December from a year earlier. Still, that’s about a full percentage point lower than is typical in a healthy economy.

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