Walmart said earlier this month that it plans to increase its starting wage for all hourly workers in the U.S. to $11 per hour , pay a one-time bonus of up to $1,000 to select employees, and expand benefits for parental leave.
The increased starting rate is scheduled to become effective in February for all Walmart, Sam’s Club, supply chain, e-commerce and home office hourly workers. The bonuses, which will range from $200 to $1,000, are for workers who don’t benefit from the hourly salary increase.
Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in a blog post that the company is in the “early stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our consumers and associates to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders.”
Karen Short, an analyst at Barclays Capital, estimated that tax reform could generate about $4.3 billion in cash flow for Walmart. With the salary hike and increased benefits costing about $700 million plus the incremental cost for expanded parental leave and adoption benefits, Short thinks that about $3 billion per year will be available for the company to invest in lower prices, technology and shareholder returns.
In related news, Walmart said the company plans to close 63 Sam’s Club warehouse stores in the next several weeks, with about 10 of the locations to be converted to e-commerce fulfillment centers.