In the past four years, we’ve raised our starting wages in the U.S. by more than 50 percent. In 2018, our average total compensation and benefits for U.S. hourly associates was $17.50 an hour. Additionally, in 2018, our U.S. hourly associates received $793 million in quarterly bonuses on top of their hourly compensation.
While pay is important to our associates, they have told us it’s just one part of the equation. Based on associate input, we have added new benefits like paid time off, advanced job training, paid family leave of up to 16 weeks for our birth mothers, an adoption benefit that pays associates $5,000 per child to cover costs, and an education program that allows associates to earn a college degree for just $1 a day. That means Walmart will subsidize the cost of higher education through our program, beyond financial aid and an associate contribution equivalent to $1 per day.
As the world’s largest retailer, we understand the importance of workforce development. We are continually investing in our associates and encouraging them to advance their own careers. In fact, we’ve promoted nearly 214,000 people in the last 12 months to jobs of greater responsibility and higher pay. In addition, we’ve converted nearly 175,000 associates from part-time to full-time positions.
These are a few of the reasons that associate retention has improved in a highly competitive job market. In fact, we've reduced our U.S. store associate turnover by 10 percent over the last year to the lowest level it has been in five years.
Simply put: We want to see our associates thrive. We mean it when we say our people make the difference.