The JUST Report: Major Employers Continue to Invest in Worker Financial Health

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

With confidence in the economy still feeling elusive for many people and layoffs dominating the headlines – particularly in the tech and banking sectors – it was a nice surprise to see prominent workforce investments by multiple large employers this week. 

After raising starting wages for store employees in 2023, Walmart announced that store managers will see annual base pay and bonuses increases this year. Walmart’s leaders specifically note how vital frontline managers are when it comes to winning over their store employees and customers alike.

Chipotle also announced this week that it is seeking to recruit 19,000 new employees in the spring – a target up about 27% from a year ago. The effort will launch alongside multiple benefits incentivizing financial health and savings for employees – including a match of up to 4% of a worker’s salary through contributions to a worker 401(k) if they make student loan payments. It also dovetails with the company’s focus on prioritizing employee advancement from within – over 90% of restaurant managers at Chipotle were promoted internally, per 2023 data – and helping workers go from hourly to salaried jobs. 

Regular followers of JUST will know such moves are very much in keeping with the goals of our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative (of which Chipotle is a founding member) not to mention American public opinion on just business behavior. At a time of increasing pushback on ESG and so-called “woke” business practices, investing in American workers is surely something we can all agree on.

Be well, 


Quote of the Week

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“I’m a full-throated, red-blooded, patriotic, unwoke, capitalist CEO … I’m not woke anything.”


Fortune reports on an MIT study that finds that AI is too expensive to replace most human jobs, at least right now. Meanwhile, employees are increasingly looking to their employers to help in AI upskilling

Must Reads

Nasdaq reports that Walmart will raise the annual average salary and bonus for its U.S. store managers beginning Feb.1, with the average salary for store managers increasing from $117,000 to $128,000 a year. 

Layoffs continue. This week, Macy’s announced they would be eliminating 2300 jobs, Ebay announced they were slashing nearly 9% of their workforce, Microsoft cuts 1,900 jobs in their gaming division only a few weeks after their historic merger with Activision-Blizzard. Media outlet Business Insider is cutting 8% of its newsroom, and the Los Angeles Times is laying off 115 reporters.  

Safety issues remain in the news as well. Johnson & Johnson will pay $700 million to settle its talcum-based baby powder investigation, and problems escalate for Boeing as more incidents of faulty aircrafts continue to be reported. 

Fortune takes a deep look at the country’s seemingly intractable inflation, revealing that nearly half of price increases over the past year were a result of excess profits–driving 53% of inflation during the second and third quarters of 2023.

The New York Times examines the contrasting approaches companies are taking to the challenges against corporate DEI programs – from reportedly eliminating, hiding, or conversely, doubling down on them. 

The US Sustainable Investment Forum explores the impact of the anti-ESG legislation that was drummed up in 2023, finding that much of it was “all talk, no walk.” More inside. 

Chart of the Week 

This chart from The Harris Poll and Axios shows that, in the wake of DEI pushback, the level of divisiveness certain terms holds across Republicans and Democrats, and between generations. The point? Companies need to define what DEI is to them, as well as the messaging they have around them, before others do it for them. Learn more here. 

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