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Walmart employees at a store in Miami. The retailing giant said it would raise its starting wage to $11 an hour from $9.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, said on Thursday that it would raise its starting wages, give bonuses to some employees and vastly expand maternity and parental leave benefits for its army of more than one million hourly workers.

The retailer said that it would use some of the money it expects to save under the recently passed tax bill to pay for the raises and enhanced benefits.

“Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.,” the company said in a statement.

Walmart said it would increase its starting hourly wage to $11 from $9, and provide one-time cash bonuses of up $1,000 to hourly workers, depending on how long they have been with the company.

The wage increase brings Walmart in line with some of its other retail-industry rivals amid a tightening labor market. Target raised its base pay to $11 last fall.

Walmart also said it would expand its maternity and parental leave policies to give full-time hourly employees 10 weeks of maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Full-time hourly workers had received up to eight weeks of maternity leave at half-pay, and the company did not offer paid parental leave. The change will give full-time hourly workers at Walmart stores the same maternity and parental leave benefits as the company’s salaried employees.

Criticized for years for its low wages and unfair scheduling practices, Walmart said it had been focusing on making investments in its hourly work force.

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