More than 7,000 Philadelphia-area Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees received a pay bump Thursday, as part of what the company is advertising as the largest, single-day, private-sector pay increase, ever.

The new, average wage for full-time Wal-Mart associates in Pennsylvania is now $13.31 an hour, up from $12.98 an hour. 

Lateysha Black, from Southwest Philadelphia, has been a sales associate on and off for the Wal-Mart on Christopher Columbus Boulevard in South Philly for about six years. She said she was thrilled the company threw a barbecue Thursday for its employees and hopes she can parlay this raise into something more. 

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“For me, it came on time,” she told Metro. 

“It helps me support myself. I feel good about it. Pretty much everybody was celebrating today and I think everybody was on the same page.”

Black said this bump in pay, though small, helps her support her dream of wanting to open up her own online boutique selling skirts and dresses in Philadelphia.

According to a press release issued Thursday by the company, the pay increases are part of the company’s two-year, $2.7 billion investment in higher pay, better training, clearer career paths and educational opportunities for its workers. The total investment totals $66.5 million in Pennsylvania.

In addition to their bonuses, Wal-Mart associates are now eligible for quarterly cash bonuses based on their performance.

In February of last year, MarketWatch slapped Wal-Mart with the worst-rated department or discount store in recent years. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Wal-Mart was reportedly the single lowest-scoring department and discount store on MarketWatch’s list – a significant departure from 10 to 15 years ago when the store ranked much higher.

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“To be honest, it’s actually better – you feel more enthusiastic to go into your job. I want to help,” said Khalil Sumler, a manager in the electronics department in the same Christopher Columbus Boulevard Wal-Mart location.

Sumler said he started off in 2010 in a Dover, Del. Wal-Mart as a stocker, then transferred to Philadelphia in 2012 and worked his way up the chain of command.

“You feel like you’re getting paid what you’re worth. It gives you more of a sense of pride in your work ethic, and it feels good to actually see Wal-Mart paying attention to its associates. It’s good to see they’re trying to get back to that,” he said.