Thousands of Mississippi employees of Walmart will see a significant pay bump starting next month. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, the retailer has announced it will raise its starting wage to $9 an hour this year and $10 next year.
Walmart has more than 23,000 full and part-time workers in the Magnolia state. Brian Thomas is the market manager on the Gulf Coast, where 4,000 employees work in eight stores. The starting wage now is $7.90.
Thomas says about 35 percent of employees could see a pay raise after the wage increase goes into effect in April.
"It's wonderful," he says. "We're truly excited about it. Our associates are truly excited about it."
Thomas says the change could help with hiring as well.
"It's going to allow us probably to attract some talent that might not have been attracted to Walmart in the past," he says. "Plus it should have a really positive impact on the retention of associates. Hopefully it will slow some of the turnover that might occur otherwise. And at the same time, it will really allow us to show our associates a stairway to a career."
The increase could also mean a big boost for Mississippi. Pete Walley, an economic analyst at the state's Institutions of Higher Learning, estimates the increase may add as much as $46 million per year of new, direct personal income into Mississippi’s economy. He estimates that, with secondary impacts, it would generate a total personal income of $55 million, and disposable personal income of $48.7 million, per year on average over the next 10 years.
"On a 10 year basis, that additional new money coming into Mississippi would us an additional 262 jobs would be created as a secondary effect of that additional money," he says. "There would be an increase in our gross domestic product of about $18 million dollars, which is small compared to a $128 billion economy, but it's a still an increase. Every little bit helps."
Other large retailers may also adjust their wages to compete. For example, clothing retailer TJ Maxx has already said it would raise its starting wage to $9 an hour this year.