Wal-Mart to boost US job count by 10,000

Walmart will create 10,000 new retail jobs in the U.S. this year

Retail giant Walmart said Tuesday that it will create 10,000 new retail jobs in the U.S. this year, the latest American company to promote its domestic-focused hiring and investment ahead of Friday's transfer of power from President Obama to president-elect Donald Trump.

Trump, of course, won the White House partly on his "America First" focus.

The new Walmart hires will work at new soon-to-be-opened stores, expanded existing stores and e-commerce services, the company said Tuesday. In addition, Walmart said an estimated 24,000 construction jobs will support its plans to open new stores and remodel existing ones.

"With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we can play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs," Dan Bartlett, Walmart's executive vice president for corporate affairs, said in a statement.

Walmart (WMT) shares rose 2.2%. The retailer's shares rose nearly 13% in 2016.

The low-price retailer, which is well into the second year of its pay increase plan, touts an hourly pay rate ranging from $9 per hour to $24.70 per hour, according to a year-ago press release announcing 2016 pay hikes for associates that went into effect last February. The average wage for full-time workers was $13.38 per hour, and $10.58 per hour, on average, for part-time workers, according to a Walmart press release.

Walmart, which employs 1.5 million U.S. workers, is the latest American company to go on the public relations offensive and emphasize its commitment to U.S. workers since Trump won the presidential election in November. The billionaire businessman has stressed via tweets and public statements his preference for U.S. firms to boost investment and create more jobs in the U.S., rather than set up shop in cheaper locales around the globe.

The Trump factor is not lost on Wall Street pros.

"Companies (are) getting in front of the shape of things to come, and that is Trump will think USA first at all times; so politics matter to these companies," says Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management. "Politically, it puts them 'in favor' with the new administration while creating jobs here."

The list of companies stressing their commitment to the U.S. is growing.

Auto giant General Motors, for example, announced Tuesday that it will invest an additional $1 billion in U.S. manufacturing, on top of the $21 billion it has invested in U.S. operations since 2009. In a statement, GM said a "combination of 1,500 new and retained jobs are tied to the new investments."

The moves by Walmart and GM follow last week's announcement by online retail giant Amazon.com that it plans on creating more than 100,000 U.S. jobs in the next 18 months. Earlier in January, auto maker Ford said it was canceling plans to build a new plant in Mexico and instead making a $700 million investment in Michigan, creating 700 new jobs in the U.S. Back in November, air conditioner maker Carrier announced a deal to keep roughly 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis after nixing plans to move jobs to Mexico.

Walmart's job announcement follows the retailer's decision in January 2016 to announce the closing of 154 poor-performing U.S. stores, which affected 10,000 U.S. workers.

Walmart also said Tuesday that it would open 160 new "training Academies around the country" and provide "specialty training" for more than 225,000 of its workers. The retailer also is planning $6.8 billion in capital investments in the U.S. in the coming fiscal year.

Longer term, Walmart reiterated a commitment made in 2013 to purchase an additional $250 billion in American-made, grown, assembled and sourced products through 2023.

Wal-Mart’s job-creation announcement is the latest in a string of public displays from companies looking to head off criticism from the Trump administration about U.S. job losses. PHOTO: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/REUTERS


Wal-Mart Touts Plan to Create U.S. Jobs, in Nod to Trump

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it plans to create about 10,000 U.S. jobs this year, a sign that even the country’s largest private employer feels the need to tout American job growth ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The jobs will come from previously planned store openings, store expansions and new e-commerce services, the company said Tuesday. The retailer said 24,000 additional construction jobs will be supported by those efforts.

“With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs,” Dan Bartlett, Wal-Mart executive vice president of corporate affairs, said in a press release.

The announcement is the latest in a string of public displays from companies looking to head off criticism from the Trump administration about U.S. job losses. Last week Amazon.com Inc. promised to create 100,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. in the next 18 months mostly through expansion plans already in the works.

In the wake of tweets from Mr. Trump, some companies such as Carrier Corp. and Ford Motor Co. reversed plans to shift some manufacturing abroad. Others highlighted U.S. job growth efforts under way before November. General Motors Co. this week is expected to announce plans to invest at least $1 billion across several U.S. factories, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Wal-Mart is the largest importer in the U.S. by shipping container volume, long putting the company in the crosshairs of critics of manufacturing overseas. Its earnings could take a hit under a Republican proposal to impose a so-called border-adjusted tax that could drive up the costs of imported goods.

Wal-Mart’s announcement got the attention of Mr. Trump. In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, the president-elect thanked the company and General Motors “for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S.!”

With 1.5 million U.S. employees, Wal-Mart dwarfs other employers. But as the company invests more in e-commerce and improving existing stores, the retailer has pulled back on opening new stores, historically the main driver of both sales and employee growth at the company.

The Bentonville, Ark., company also has been cutting staff and restructuring its operations. It plans to eliminate about 1,000 corporate jobs before the month’s end, people familiar with the matter said last week. In early 2016, Wal-Mart cut 10,000 store jobs after closing 154 U.S. locations and said 450 positions at its headquarters would be eliminated. Another 7,000 back-office positions were cut from stores later in the year.

Many of those employees were rehired in other open positions, a Wal-Mart spokesman said, adding that there has been a net increase in U.S. employees during the past year.

On Tuesday, Wal-Mart also announced a round of grants to six universities working on textile innovations aimed at bringing back U.S. manufacturing in that sector. It has made similar grants in previous years, without mentioning U.S. job counts.

The company reiterated its 2013 pledge to buy an additional $250 billion in American-made, grown, assembled and sourced products through 2023. It also plans to build 200 training academies by this summer to teach retail management skills to more than 200,000 store employees.

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