Walmart has unexpectedly announced that it will close dozens of stores and lay off thousands of workers across the country just hours after announcing it was raising its starting minimum wage for new employees to $11 an hour.
The retail giant told Business Insider that 63 Sam’s Club stores will close within the next few weeks, with some locations stopping business today.
“After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy,” the company said on Twitter. “Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.”
The Hill added:
Several of the warehouse clubs are expected to be converted into distribution centers.
Along with the higher minimum wage, Walmart announced earlier Thursday that it would expand parental leave and give some employees one-time bonuses of up to $1,000 following the passage of the GOP tax overhaul.
Before the layoffs and store closings were announced, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) praised Walmart’s move to raise its starting wage on Thursday, while touting the new GOP tax law.
“Today marks 20 days since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act became the law of the land,” Ryan said. “Already, this new law is helping to improve the lives of middle-income families across the country. You saw the announcement from Walmart just this morning: more than a million Americans are due to receive their bonuses because of tax reform.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the benefits “insignificant” compared to those of corporate executives.
“In terms of the bonus that corporate America received, versus the crumbs that they are giving to workers to kind-of put the schmooze on, [it] is so pathetic,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
During the White House press briefing on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin commented on Walmart’s minimum wage raises and bonuses.
“I would also like to highlight the announcement this morning from Walmart. We want to thank them. They will be increasing their minimum wages, issuing bonuses, and expanding family benefits for over 1 million employees. Walmart is the latest company to make such an announcement and today join over 130 other companies across the nation who have already given such relief. We are up to 2 million workers that have seen special bonuses or additional wages.”
“The administration’s economic policies are a function of what we see growth and investment. Different companies will do different things — some companies will invest capital, some companies will return money to workers. Lots of things are going on in the economy and we appreciate what Walmart is doing.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the Sam’s Club closures and layoffs.
“I don’t have any comment on that specific component,” Sanders responded.
“We are, again, very excited about the raises and the overall influx of investment they are putting into their company in helping over 1 million workers here in the country. Walmart is the largest employer in the country and to see them make that kind of effort to over 1 million workers is a big deal, something we are excited about and further evidence that the tax reform and tax cut packages are having the impact we’d hoped.”