The hunt for warehouse help heats up
Walmart in late July began handing out temporary pay increases to warehouse workers through January 2022 as it began preparing for a busy holiday selling season.
A Walmart spokesperson told CNBC that the temporary wage increase could add up to $200 more per week for some full-time workers and more with overtime. The rate depends on the employee’s location, type of job and shift.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the pay hikes, also noted that some workers are being promised $1,000 over four weeks for not missing any regularly scheduled shifts during the second half of the summer. A spokesman told the Journal the retailer’s distribution warehouses “continue to see high volume as we are preparing for peak season.”
The higher pay and special bonuses come as retailers add warehouse capacity to meet the accelerated shift to e-commerce due to the pandemic. Employers are also handing out higher pay, sign-on bonuses and other perks to store associates and other typically low-wage workers amid a tight labor market.
At Walmart, employees in distribution and fulfillment centers, excluding drivers, were paid an hourly wage on average of $20.37, well above the average wage of $14.61 for Walmart U.S. at the end of 2020, according to the company’s environmental, social and governance report.
Warehouse work can be demanding. Senate testimony earlier this year from an Amazon.com employee spearheading unionization efforts highlighted pressures from productivity quotas and break restrictions.
On Amazon’s second-quarter conference call, Brian Olsavsky, CFO, said the company moved up the timeline for annual wage increases to May from October due to the competitive labor market. “We’re spending a lot of money on signing and incentives, and while we have very good staffing levels, it’s not without cost,” he said. “It’s a very competitive labor market out there and certainly, the biggest contributor to inflationary pressures that we’re seeing in the business.”
The spread of the Delta variant may further skew online holiday sales as apprehensions over in-store shopping returns and could heighten risks for warehouse work.
- Walmart Gives Special Bonuses and Pay Raises to Keep Warehouse Workers – The Wall Street Journal
- Walmart to offer bonuses to keep warehouse workers on the job through the holidays – CNBC
- Walmart dangles bonuses for warehouse workers as summer sales surge – New York Post
- Amazon to mandate masks for its 900,000 workers in warehouses – USA Today
- Some Amazon warehouse workers see spike in Covid cases – NBC News
- Amazon Faces Wider Fight Over Labor Practices – The New York Times
- Amazon warehouse worker testifies to Senate: ‘My workday feels like a 9-hour intense workout every day’ – CNN
- Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript – Alpha Street
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see the shortage of warehouse workers as a temporary or long-term challenge for retailers? What obvious and less obvious solutions do you see?