The Obama administration said Thursday that it will keep seeking ways to raise wages for workers as more sweeping efforts stall in Congress.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Wal-Mart's decision to raise starting wages to $9 an hour in its U.S. stores beginning in April and up to $10 next year — $1.75 above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 — "is another example of businesses along with cities and states taking action on their own to raise wages for their workers, recognizing that doing so can raise productivity, reduce turnover and improve morale."
Schultz said that more than a dozen states, the District of Columbia and businesses of all sizes have raised wages since President Obama first called for action in his 2013 State of the Union address.
"We continue to call on Congress to give all workers in America a wage — a raise hike," he said. "But given their recalcitrance on this, because Republicans keep blocking it, we’re going to continue to make progress in other ways."
Wal-Mart is the nation's largest employer, with 1.3 million people on its U.S. payrolls. As many as 500,000 people could be affected by the change that includes better training programs and more schedule flexibility.
Company leaders told reporters on Thursday that making an investment in their employees will improve the customer experience and further enhance their bottom line.