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A worker helps a customer at a Walmart store. Photo: Julio Cortez / AP

Walmart announced Wednesday that it will start allowing its workers to claim already-earned wages before their scheduled payday, in order to help its associates meet unexpected expenses. It's working with FinTech firms Even and PayActiv to offer workers a suite of financial services, including the ability to take advances on pay up to 8 times per year.

Don't get too excited: Walmart has been investing in higher hourly pay for workers, but its starting wage of $9 per hour still trails that of rivals Target and Costco, and labor advocates say that allowing advances is little help for those who simply don't earn enough money.

Walmart tells the New York Times that the move will reduce financial stress for workers, which will make them happier and more productive, but critics are dubious.

  • "“It sounds like this may be a useful service but it doesn’t tackle the fundamental problem Walmart workers suffer,” said Paul Sonn, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project, tells the paper. “Their paychecks are too small.”

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.