Wal-Mart Says Employee Perks Topped $1 Billion in '06

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Wal-Mart Says Employee Perks Topped $1 Billion in '06

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said yesterday that its U.S. hourly employees received $1.1 billion in perks that include company contributions to their profit sharing and 401(k) accounts, a stock purchase plan, and associate merchandise discounts, for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2007.

Wal-Mart said its philosophy of sharing its profits with full-time and part-time hourly associates is "rare in the retailing industry."

The retailer cited data from the Hewitt Benefit Index, conducted by global human resources services company Hewitt Associates, which shows that Wal-Mart scored 217.4 on retirement savings benefits, while the average retail score is 100. The next closest retailer to Wal-Mart in the retirement savings benefits category scored 199.1, according to the index.

"Sam Walton strongly believed in making all associates partners in the success of our business, and that commitment is as strong as ever today," said Linda Dillman, e.v.p. of risk management, benefits, and sustainability, in a statement.

Historically, Wal-Mart has contributed two percent of an associate's pay to a profit-sharing plan and two percent of pay into an associate's 401(k) retirement plan. Associates are not required to contribute any of their own money to the plans in order to get the company contribution.

Wal-Mart said that during the fiscal year it contributed:
-- $667 million to 815,629 hourly associates in profit-sharing and 401(k) contributions.

-- $51.4 million to 706,389 hourly associates toward the company's associate stock purchase plan.

-- $397 million in discounted merchandise through a program that gives hourly associates and their family members 10 percent off merchandise at Wal-Mart.

Additionally, Wal-Mart awarded more than $529.8 million in bonuses earlier this year to 813,759 Wal-Mart store and Sam's Club hourly associates in the U.S.