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Walmart ups pay above minimum wage

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Walmart will pay current employees at least $10 an hour within the next year, the company announced Thursday.

The nation’s largest private sector employer said 500,000 full-time and part-time associates at Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs will receive pay raises in the first half of the current fiscal year that will take them to at least $9 an hour, which will be $1.75 an hour above the current federal minimum wage.

By Feb. 1 of next year, their pay will rise to at least $10 an hour.

The company said workers will also have more control over their schedule. The new program will cost the company about $1 billion in this fiscal year.

Walmart’s pay and employment policies have been the focus of protest by some workers and outside labor groups seeking to organize Walmart employees.