Home Depot and Walmart join list of bonus-givers

Home Depot on Thursday joined the parade of companies announcing a one-time cash bonus for many of its employees.

The hardware giant, the largest company by revenues based in Georgia, will pay up to $1,000 to each nonsalaried worker – the vast majority of employees – in addition to the company's ongoing bonuses, according to a statement.

The company, like others before it, linked the payments directly to the dramatic revision in the nation’s tax structure passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December.

“We are pleased to be able to provide this additional reward to our associates for continuing to deliver outstanding customer service,” said Craig Menear, the company’s chairman, CEO and president. “This incremental investment in our associates was made possible by the new tax reform bill.”

Home Depot, which has more than $90 billion in revenue, has about 406,000 employees. About 20,000 of those workers area in metro Atlanta, with roughly half of them staffing the region's 62 stores.

Overall, more than 90 percent of Home Depot employees are paid by the hour, according to spokesman Stephen Holmes.

Earlier this week, Walmart said it would raise the starting pay of all hourly workers to $11 an hour, expand parental and maternity benefits and pay a one-time bonus of up to $1,000 for employees with 20 years of service.

The pay hike for new employees will raise Walmart’s average hourly wage for full-time workers in Georgia to $14.32, said Phillip Keene, company spokesman.

The additional payments in Georgia will come to $57.8 million this year, the company said. The bonus accounts for $14 million, he said.

Walmart, which has annual revenues of more than $480 billion, has more than 36,000 employees in 200 Walmart and Sam’s Clubs in Georgia, Keene said.

The company has more than 70 stores and about 20,000 employers in metro Atlanta.

Walmart has drawn some flack for announcing the bonuses as it also closed stores.

For instance, the Sam’s Club in Lithonia closed Jan. 11, spurring a meeting between Walmart representatives and hundreds of area residents this week, a session that left some local officials unsatisfied.

Mereda Davis Johnson, a DeKalb County Commissioner for the area, told the DeKalb Neighbor newspaper that Walmart did not explain the closing of the store.

Keene called the closing a “tough decision” and said the company is trying to transfer workers to other company stores.

Also on Thursday, Atlantic Packaging announced it will pay $1,000 bonuses to full-time employees. The North Carolina-based company has facilities in Acworth and Dalton.

Among other companies announcing bonuses and pegging it to the tax cuts are TSYS in Columbus and Austell-based Yancey Bros. Columbus-based Aflac announced plans to bump up contributions to employee savings plans.

Wages for Atlantans haven't kept pace with economic growth. And a one-time bonus doesn't change that.

But the bonus payments give the economy – and consumer confidence – a boost, said Mark Bell, managing principal in the Atlanta office of Diversified Trust, a wealth management firm.

“Americans don’t like to save, so obviously these people will spend the money and that will be very stimulative to the economy,” he said. “And the psychological benefits of an unexpected gift are much greater than the psychological benefits of one that’s expected.”


AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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