(AP) -- Home Depot said Tuesday it's investing $1 billion in wage increases for its U.S. and Canadian hourly workers.
The Atlanta-based home improvement chain said every hourly employee will get a raise starting this month. Starting pay will be at least $15 per hour in all markets.
Home Depot is one of many big retailers who have raised pay to attract workers in a strong U.S. job market, where unemployment is at its lowest level since 1969. Walmart announced in January that it would be raising its hourly wage to an average of $17.50, while Target invested $300 million in hourly wage increases last year.
The pay raises could also help Home Depot head off a fledgling campaign to unionize its stores, which it opposes. Workers at a Home Depot in Philadelphia filed to hold a union election last September, saying workers weren't benefiting from Home Depot's strong sales and stores were understaffed. Workers at the store voted to reject the union in November.
Home Depot employs 437,000 people in the U.S. and 34,000 in Canada. The vast majority are hourly employees, the company said. The company operates 2,000 stores in the U.S. and 182 stores in Canada.
"This investment will help us attract and retain the best talent into our pipeline," Home Depot's Chairman, President and CEO Ted Decker wrote in an email to employees. Decker noted that 90% of the chain's store leadership started as hourly workers.