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Wal-Mart to hire 60,000 for holiday rush

Walmart department manager Karren Gomes helps stock shelves with school supplies as the retail store prepare for back to school shoppers in San Diego, California August 6, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) said it plans to hire 60,000 seasonal employees to work at its stores in the United States, the same as last year, as it gets ready for the busy holiday selling season.

The world's largest retailer will pay temporary employees a starting rate of at least $9 per hour, as it tries to improve customer service with faster checkouts and better-stocked shelves at its 4,588 U.S. stores.

In February, Wal-Mart said it would raise entry-level wages to $9 an hour, a 24 percent increase from the U.S. minimum wage that some employees now earn, after succumbing to longstanding pressure to pay its workforce more.

The company said the increases would cost it $1 billion and impact about 40 percent of its workforce, although the hike fell short of what some labor groups have been agitating for.

"So this year we have more associates working more hours in our stores than last year, so while the holiday hiring number is flat, we do have more people in the stores taking care of customers," Kory Lundberg, a company spokesman said in an email.

Current workers will be given the first opportunity to pick up additional hours, Wal-Mart said in an emailed statement.

The company also said it was adding department managers in more than 3,500 stores for the holidays to specifically serve customers coming for in-store pick ups of online orders.

Wal-Mart's shares were down 0.6 percent at $64.26 in morning trading on Thursday.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)