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Walmart raises wages of pharmacy workers in tight labor market

By Siddharth Cavale

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Walmart Inc (WMT) said on Thursday it would increase the average pay of pharmacy workers to more than $20 per hour and offer more frequent and automatic pay raises as part of a new "progressive wage model" to address a tight domestic labor market.

The raises by the nation's largest private employer will be offered to more than 36,000 Walmart (WMT) and Sam's Club pharmacy technicians beginning this week, the company said in a blog post.

Starting pay will remain the same, however, ranging from $15 to $22.50, a company spokesperson said, with certified technicians starting at $16.50 and higher.

The announcement marks the second pay increase over the past year for Walmart (WMT) technicians, who last received hikes of at least $1 to their base pay in August 2021.

There is currently a nationwide labor shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that is forcing retailers to adapt by offering attractive incentives and pay increases. Pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS also raised minimum wages to $15 per hour and doled out sign-on bonuses over the past year.

A survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association last year found that more than a third of independent community pharmacies were having a hard time filling staff positions, with 88% stating that pharmacy technicians were in short supply. This was also leading to increased dispensing times.

Walmart (WMT) also announced on Thursday that it would hire about 5,000 additional pharmacy technicians this year.

It will also offer more frequent and automatic pay hikes to pharmacy technicians as part of new wage model "designed to set us apart from the competition."

New pharmacy technicians, for example, will get raises that can add up to $4 to their hourly starting base pay over the course of four years under this plan, the company said.

They also will get pay hikes every six months over their first two years with the company.

"We are sending a strong signal to pharmacy technicians everywhere that Walmart (WMT) is serious about attracting top talent," senior executives wrote in the blog post

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York and Ananya Mariam Rajesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Bill Berkrot)

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