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Meghann Brink makes her way to the car after shopping at the Oak Park Town Center shopping complex Walmart in Hixson, Tenn., on February 19, 2015.

The world's biggest retailer -- and the biggest grocer in Chattanooga -- is boosting the pay this week for hourly workers in Tennessee to at least $9 an hour and will raise minimum hourly pay to $10 by next February.

Wal-Mart, which said it is investing another $1 billion this year in its workers, said Wednesday it is giving raises to 17,352 associates in Tennessee for the pay period that began last Saturday. With the raises, associates earn at least $1.75 an hour above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The new full-time average hourly wage in Tennessee is now $12.87.

"As personnel manager, I have already seen the immediate positive impact this raise is having on employees at my store," said Neki Ward, an HR director for a Wal-Mart store in Antioch, Tenn. "I am so thankful to know employees will have a better opportunity and motivation to continue their career path with Wal-Mart."

This is the first companywide increase in wages since Wal-Mart's announcement in February to provide even more opportunity for its workers. Wal-Mart is also raising the floor and ceiling of its in-store pay bands in most stores and is providing raises to associates earning at the maximum of their pay band.

Wal-Mart said through its Opportunity initiative, Wal-Mart also is providing increased scheduling flexibility and control, and new training opportunities for continued growth and advancement beyond entry-level jobs. To ensure consistency, some associates will have access to fixed schedules that will not change for at least six months. Associates will also have the option to pick their own shifts or continue to be scheduled systematically based on their availability.

The company said it also is re-examining the department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of them to at least $13 per hour this summer and at least $15 per hour early next year. As part of the company's commitment to associate success, Wal-Mart also is implementing comprehensive changes to its hiring, training, compensation, and scheduling programs, as well as its store structure.

Wal-Mart operates stores in the Chattanooga region in Hixson, East Brainerd, Signal Mountain Boulevard, Lookout Valley, Fort Oglethorpe, Ooltewah, Soddy-Daisy, Kimball, Dunlap, Dalton, Lafayette, Cleveland, Dayton, Trion and Calhoun.

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