In recent years, Walmart has gotten the jump on Target by being the first to announce a series of base pay hikes. In February 2015, Walmart said it would raise base wages for 500,000 workers to at least $9 an hour, with an increase to $10 an hour in 2016. That year, Walmart also gave raises to more than 1.2 million hourly workers, which pushed the average hourly full-time store employee up to $13.38 an hour.
Target followed suit with its own wage increases in 2015 and 2016, promising a $10-an-hour base last year.
“Target has always offered market competitive wages to our team members,” Brian Cornell, Target’s chief executive, said in a statement announcing the new base rate. “With this latest commitment, we’ll be providing even more meaningful pay.”
On Monday, a Walmart spokesman said the company is always reviewing where its stands in terms of pay.
“We’re committed to providing pay and training for our associates that is competitive in the market,” said the spokesman, Kory Lundberg.
Target’s $11-an-hour base pay exceeds the minimum wage in 48 states and matches the pay floor set by Massachusetts and Washington State, two of the 19 states that raised their minimum wages at the start of the year. It far exceeds the federal base, which has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009.
Retail is the largest private-sector employer in the United States, according to the National Retail Federation. Cashiers receive a median hourly wage of $9.40, while sales associates receive $9.77 and store managers are paid $14.86, according to compensation tracker PayScale.
But Target, like many retailers, is struggling to adapt to e-commerce and pricing pressures. Earlier this month, the company said it would cut prices on thousands of products, stoking concerns from investors. The Minneapolis-based chain, which has been trying to clean up after a data breach in 2013 that compromised the data of millions of customers, agreed in May to pay $18.5 million to 47 states and the District of Columbia in a settlement. Target’s stock price is down 16 percent this year.
Target is probably responding in part to ever-present “Help Wanted” signs as it tries to recruit and retain workers, said John W. Budd, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. But the company could also be trying to convince consumers that it is a good corporate citizen before lawmakers try to push up the timeline for minimum wage increases.