(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Wal-Mart, the country’s biggestprivate employer, has been criticized by activistsand by its own workers for not paying living wages or providingfull-time hours to those who want them. This week, however, all ofthe company’s senior executives appeared on a stage inRogers, Ark., for six hours, and no one in the audience ofinvestors and analysts asked much about the company’s 1.3 millionU.S. employees.

It was only afterward, when Wal-Mart Chief Executive Office DougMcMillon spoke to reporters, that the issue of pay cameup. McMillon said that Wal-Mart “wants to be in a situationwhere we don’t pay minimum wage at all.” That sounds good. But it’sso vague that it’s hard to know if this amounts to a shift or ismerely a clever attempt to set the issue aside.

McMillon noted that of Wal-Mart’s U.S. workforce, fewer than6,000 earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The companyreports an average full-time hourly wage of $12.92, but it doesn’tprovide a figure for its many part-timers—30,000 of whomwill lose their health benefits next year—inaddition to those who already lost them.

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