Walmart raises pay in US even as it shuts some Sam's Club stores

Walmart goes to 11: Walmart is raising its minimum wage to $11 and expanding benefits in the wake of US tax reform. The bump, which begins next month, comes on top of wage increases already planned. Employees will also see expanded maternity and parental leave benefits, and some eligible workers will get a one-time $1,000 bonus. Other companies — including JetBlue, Waste Management, and Bank of America — have made similar announcements since the December passage of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul. • Share your thoughts: #WalmartWageIncrease

Cryptocurrencies plunged on news that South Korea is working to ban digital currency exchanges. Bitcoin dropped 12% and the global crypto market lost over $106 billion (although it’s since recovered some of those losses). South Korea’s justice ministry is working on a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading on domestic exchanges, which would require a majority vote from the National Assembly — “a process that could take months or even years,” says Reuters. The nation, one of the world’s biggest crypto markets, has more than a dozen exchanges. Several in Seoul were also raided this week on reports of tax evasion. • Share your thoughts: #SKoreaCryptocurrencyBan

In more crypto news: China has ordered the closure of operations “mining” most of the world’s supply of bitcoin, a move that may disrupt markets for cryptocurrencies, The Wall Street Journal reports. A committee led by China’s central bank to oversee risks in internet finance ordered the shutdown last week. Sparsely populated areas of the country where electricity is cheap accounted for almost 80% of power devoted to global bitcoin mining over the past 30 days. • Share your thoughts: #ChinaBitcoin

Sears Holdings just raised $100 million and is working to refinance more than $1 billion in debt. The parent of Kmart and Sears is also pursuing an additional $200 million in funding and plans to shave off $200 million in costs. If those efforts aren’t successful, says CEO Eddie Lampert, the company is willing to explore “all other options” to strengthen its balance sheet. One of numerous brick-and-mortar retailers hit by the “retailpocalypse,” Sears closed multiple stores in 2017 and announced even more just last week. • Share your thoughts: #SearsDebt

Half of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) roles have experienced gender discrimination at work, according to a Pew Research study. That jumps to nearly three-quarters of women in computer-related jobs and 78% in mostly male workplaces. This discrimination can include pay inequity, being “treated as if they were not competent,” sexual harassment, and more. Broader societal pressures also result in many women leaving the field, Technology Review notes; an estimated 3,000 PhD-trained women opt out of the scientific workforce every year — a loss of about $1.5 billion. • Share your thoughts: #STEMSexism

Idea of the Day: Making New Years resolutions happen isn’t easy. How does habits expert Gretchen Rubin do it? Resolution charts — an idea adapted from Benjamin Franklin to score each day based on how you achieved your goals.