During an annual shareholder meeting in Arkansas, US, this week, Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO, said that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is “too low” and is “lagging behind”.
Walmart is one of the largest private employers in the country and as its leader, McMillon has broken his long silence on this contentious debate that has gripped the entire country including employees, companies and the government.
The US Congress has not raised the minimum wage since 2009 and media reports cite that McMillon’s comments from the shareholder meeting would push the government into action.
“It’s time for Congress to put a thoughtful plan in place,” McMillon said urging the government to put a phased out plan into place over a period of time that enables the entire country’s companies to prepare themselves to pay a higher minimum wage.
At present, the minimum wage at Walmart in the US locations is $11 an hour. Other conglomerates in the grocery retailer landscape such as Amazon and Costco have raised the wage to $15 an hour.
As setting the federal minimum wage falls under the responsibility of the government, it has become a political platform for many on the Democrats’ side. It is precisely why Walmart is also facing the same pressure from the Democrats, workers’ unions and lobbyists.
Given the rising cost of living in different parts of the country because of inflation, trade tensions with other countries and a globally fluctuating jobs’ scenario, the leaders of large employers in the US are facing the challenge of striking a balance between raising the minimum wages, retaining employees, earning the employees’ trust and at the same time getting used to lower profit margins.