Ok. So, here me out. Yes, we should celebrate, because if you work twenty hours a week and your pay jumps by $2 an hour, that's about an additional $2,000 a year you'll be making. Plus there are announcements of bonuses and family benefits and all. But I don't think we should be showering Wal-Mart with praise. In my opinion, this was inevitable, and here's why.
First things first. The article says that this'll bump up Wal-Mart's yearly pay by about $300 million dollars. That sounds like a lot of money. You'd think it was no wonder they'd hold off on this. Except, if I Google "Wal-Mart Yearly Profit" I get answers anywhere from $12-18 billion a year. $300 million is a drop in the bucket compared to that. They had the capacity to be this generous all along.
I'm having trouble thinking today so let me just lay this out and hope I say it clearly and we'll figure what's what.
Unemployment is at pre-recession low. During the recession, retail companies had all sorts of overqualified people working for them (the under employed). Had a job in IT but now you don't? Go work at an electronics company and repair computers. Had a job in banking but now you don't? Go be a cashier supervisor at any retail store. Used to have a job as an office manager but now you don't? Go be a department manager at any retail store. Now those jobs are coming back. The people with accounting degrees are accounting, the people with engineering degrees are engineering, and all places like Wal-Mart have left are people who aren't qualified to be engineers, but are qualified to work at Wal-Mart (and I don't mean dumb or lazy or anything, just that they don't necessarily have degrees or certifications).
Except pickings are thin.
Know who pays better than Wal-Mart? Amazon and your generic warehouses. Trained jobs like painters and framers. Shipping companies like FedEx and UPS. Other retail companies like Costco and Target (who by the way who started paying $11/hr well before any tax cuts).
Wal-Mart knows what's up. Retail jobs are harder today than they were twenty years ago. You have to be good with computers, numbers, customer service, and be willing to take on the same workload that twenty years ago would have been split between two or three people. Retail is hard now, which means more training and more investment in your workers. If you're gonna pay people poorly, they're not gonna wanna stick around, which means you're burning time and money training people only to see them leave. If you pay someone $11-15 an hour, they might stick around because they think the pay is worth it, or they might stick around because they hate their job but the next guy only pays fifty cents above minimum and that's a crummy pay cut.
Either way, this isn't about being generous or tax cuts, because they've had the opportunity to be generous for years. This is about worker shortages and Wal-Mart trying to suck a little less to keep people working for them.
Still, hooray for the pay boost, cause those people deserve it.
Edit: Sorry. I just re-read this and I sound overly harsh. I didn't mean to sound overly harsh. I'm just doubtful that Wal-Mart is full of tax break good will all of the sudden.