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Last week, Walmart said that it will spend $1 billion this year to give raises to half-a-million workers — which will benefit workers in the new Wal-Mart planned for Salem and could give many of them jobs earning $10 an hour. 100253043-walmart-employees-india-gettyp.530x298

About 500,000 full- and part-time associates at both Walmart and the company’s Sam’s Club warehouse stores will start making $9 an hour or more in April.

The world’s largest retailer made the announcement last Thursday as part of its fourth-quarter earnings report.

The new wage hike is at least $1.75 more than the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25.

By February 2016, hourly employees will make at least $10 an hour after completing about six months of training.

CEO Doug McMillon said that the decision to hike wages was made as part of a strategy to retain employees and improve customer service.

“We want associates that care about the company and are highly engaged in our business and are leaning in,” he said. “Those feelings generate a customer experience that drives growth.”

Walmart employs more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. Of the 500,000 employees getting raises, approximately 6,000 currently make the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, says spokesperson Kory Lundberg.

The remaining 494,000 employees getting raises are either making between $7.25 and $9 an hour, or more than $9 an hour and are getting raises to meet new minimum or maximum pay grades for certain positions.

Full-time employees currently make an average of $12.85 an hour, and part-time employees make an average of $9.48, Lundberg says. Those averages will increase to $13 and $10 respectively under the new plan.

The announcement comes as Walmart has experienced declining store traffic for months and has lost some of its edge as a leader on price, as dollar stores, Amazon, Target and other rivals become more competitive.

A groundbreaking on the Wal-Mart in Salem is planned for early March.

A 150,000+ square foot  Wal-Mart Super Center, a little larger than the Scottsburg project will be constructed on East Hackberry Street.

In fact, according to Randall Hake, VP of Commercial Development with Cedarwood Development, the store will be the largest Wal-Mart in Southern Indiana.

Timeline — construction will begin in mid-2015 and opening is planned for 2016.

Employment is expected to be 300-400 with additional employees for restaurants and ancillary businesses located around the facility.

There will be approx. 640 parking spaces in the parking lot.