The wage increase is the next phase in the Bentonville, Ark.-based company's "billion-dollar commitment" to upgrading the company's compensation, hiring, training and scheduling programs in the U.S., spokesman Kory Lundberg said Tuesday.
In February, Wal-Mart said it would raise the minimum wage for current associates to at least $10 an hour by February. New hires will start at $9 an hour, but can move to $10 an hour after completing a six-month training program.
That move affected about 500,000 employees and is different than the wage increases announced Tuesday, Lundberg said.
Managers in more complex, service-oriented departments such as auto care and electronics will now receive wages starting at $13 an hour, up from $10.30, the company said. Wages for managers in less service-oriented departments, such as clothing or luggage, will now start at $10.90 an hour, up from $9.90 currently.
Specialists who work in departments such as the deli or wireless sales will now start at $9.90 an hour, up from $9.20.
Workers will see the increases in their paychecks starting Aug. 13, the company said.
Lundberg said the company hopes the wage increases will help reduce employee turnover and improve customer service. Wal-Mart employs 1.3 million people in the U.S.
"It's something we have been working on and looking at for a long time," he said.
Wal-Mart is the latest in a string of companies to announce pay increases for workers.
In March, Target Corp. said it would raise its workers' minimum wage to $9 an hour. In April, McDonald's Corp. said it would raise the minimum wage for workers at company-owned restaurants by more than 10%.
Tom Juravich, labor studies professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said Wal-Mart's moves are a sign that the company is feeling the pressure from the Black Friday wage protests and Fight for 15, which advocates for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
"They're trying to show their corporate responsibility," he said.
The pay raise is a positive sign, Juravich said, and though it will "not take people out of poverty," it could be a catalyst for other companies to follow suit.
"If this anchor is loosening up ... we may begin to see some spiraling up in this industry," he said.
Shares of Wal-Mart were down 24 cents, or 0.3%, to $74.49 in early trading Tuesday on Wall Street.