On Monday Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it will implement a 6 percent wage increase for new employees at 1,200 of its stores, while capping the wages of veteran workers for the first time.
OK, so it’s not a particularly exciting story, lacking as it does a scandalous options angle, business “buzz,” or even a volatile stock. Nonetheless, the Associated Press managed to entertain with a story posted Tuesday on the ABC News Web site.
The article begins with a flourish, reporting that Wal-Mart is “raising wages at nearly a third of its 4,000 U.S. stores and introducing wage caps at all stores in an effort to remain competitive with other retailers and meet a need for workers and managers as it continues to expand.”
Then, in the second graf, the AP divides 4,000 by three to get this: “Workers at more than 1,200 stores will see their paychecks grow by an average 6 percent.” It also expands upon the “introducing wage caps at all stores” theme by noting that Wal-Mart will be “introducing wage caps for the first time on each type of job in all stores.”
By the third graf, it is necessary to repeat the first graf: “The nation’s largest private employer said Monday the changes would help it remain competitive with other retailers and meet a need for workers and managers as it continues to expand.”
Shortly thereafter, AP shows off its numeracy again, noting that there will be pay increases “at more than 1,200 stores spread across the country” — this time attributing the facts to Wal-Mart. The story winds things up with this startling information: Wal-Mart starting salaries “will be increased at more than 1,200 stores, with the average hike about 6 percent,” according to Wal-Mart.
But, we are told, “This does not translate into an across-the-board pay increase for all associates.” In other words, the pay increase is only at 1,200 stores, out of 4,000 stores. This, according to Wal-Mart.
Elsewhere in the story, a Wal-Mart spokesman is said to disagree with a WakeUpWalMart.com spokesman, who thinks the wage caps might be aimed at reducing wage costs. A think-tanker thinks Wal-Mart might be polishing its image. A Wal-Mart vice president apparently thinks Wal-Mart offers employees competitive benefits. And a retail analyst says what’s going on is “nothing that is ground breaking.”
He can say that again.