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Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, last week announced a plan to increase pay for half a million U.S. employees after years of criticism over its employment practices and high employment turnover, according to the New York Times. The company also vowed to increase its wage level in 2016 to $10 an hour, the report notes.

The New York Times reports:

The retail giant, which for years has been the target of widespread criticism over its low pay structure and increasing reliance on part-time workers, said that all of its United States workers would earn at least $9 an hour by April and at least $10 by next February. Some labor advocates, however, who are demanding $15 an hour for service workers, called the plan inadequate.

The pay raise also signals that a tightening job market — with the unemployment rate now at 5.7 percent, compared with 9.8 percent five years ago, is leading to higher wages. Walmart has had significant trouble retaining employees in a job market where its competitors like Costco Wholesale offer better wages.

The move could be a sign of the times, some labor experts tell the Times.

We’re finally going to see a wage creep, and Walmart is trying to get out in front,” said Ann C. Hodges, a labor relations expert at the University of Richmond. “They’re thinking: We’re probably going to do this anyway.”

While the company said about 40 percent of its work force, including those at the wholesale Sam’s Club outlets, would be affected, many of those raises will amount to much less than a dollar an hour more. About 6,000 employees receive the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. Walmart says its part-time workers already earn an average wage of $9.48, and full-timers an average of $12.85.

Although it’s widely believed that the retail giant could likely afford to do more, every little bit helps.

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Walmart Hikes Wages For Half A Million Workers  was originally published on