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Target Corp., the second-largest discount retail chain, will raise employee pay to at least $9 an hour this year, following in the footsteps of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and TJX Cos., the Wall Street Journal reported.

Target plans to make the change next month, though it’s been informing workers of the increase in recent days, the Journal said. Wal-Mart, Target’s biggest rival, announced plans in February to boost hourly pay to at least $9 by April and then to $10 by next February.

Retailers are putting more money in paychecks in an effort to reduce turnover and cope with an increasingly competitive labor market. Payrolls rose in 39 states in January and the unemployment rate fell in 24 of them, figures from the Labor Department showed Tuesday.

Wal-Mart’s move put pressure on Target to respond, Burt Flickinger, managing director at Strategic Resource Group in New York, said last month.

“It’s a competitive market for workers,” he said.

Unlike Wal-Mart, Target doesn’t plan to make a formal announcement about its pay increase, the Journal said. Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based Target, didn’t have an immediate comment.

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