Retail employees have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning. That's why Walmart is increasing the wages of 425,000 employees nationwide.

Walmart on Thursday announced that will it be raising the pay for employees across the country, including the Utica/Rome area. The raise will boost wages to between $13-$19 an hour, depending on location, for 425,000 digital and stocking store associates on March 13, Walmart CEO and President John Furner said in a statement to employees.

Retailers nationwide saw a huge negative impact in sales because of the pandemic, but not Walmart. They seemed to be ahead of the game before any one else, as digital and stocking workers played a huge role in Walmart’s operations for both online pickup and delivery. Many customers weren't thrilled to enter a crowded store during a pandemic, so these resources panned out just the way they had hoped.

“We did a lot right last year, and our customers rewarded us,” Furner said.

Throughout the pandemic, Walmart as a retailer basically set a certain standard for the industry regarding employees and the way that they were paid during the pandemic. This is just another act in that effort.

“It follows other actions we took last year, including special COVID-19 bonuses, raising pay for 165,000 key leadership roles, and restructuring to a team-based model of working in our stores,” Furner said. “Whatever your role, know that we’ll continue to support and invest in you.”

The chain is working on expanding some of the services that they've been offering, including same-day delivery, adding more selection to their online operations, and more.

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