Thursday, January 17, 2013

Walmart adds Veterans jobs and Made in America products (not)

Yesterday I wrote a post accusing Wal-Mart of being anti-American.  As America's largest retailer and employer we must insist that they act socially responsible.  Yesterday we learned that Wal-Mart has created a PR stunt designed to make consientious consumers like myself happy.  Wal-Mart claims that they are willing to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years within 12 months of the service person being honorably discharged.  They also claim they will increase the dollar amount of American-made products they purchase by $50 billion over the next ten years.  Don't get excited, these aren't changes.  In fact, Americans should be insulted.  I stand by what I said that Walmart is anti-American.

Allow me to explain why the Walmart initiatives aren't worth applauding.  The following quotes and data come from an article by Christopher Matthews in Time. 

Walmart employs 1.3 millions sales associates in the U.S., and because of their horrible pay and treatment of employees they have an astonishingly high turnover rate of 37%.  Therefore Walmart needs to hire 480,000 people per year to replace the outgoing workers.  They are boasting that they will hire 100,000 veterans over 5 years, or 20,000 workers per year, this represents 4.16% of their inbound workforce.  But veterans make up a much larger portion of the population than 4%.  In fact the civilian veteran workforce is over double that number at 9% of the working population If Walmart wants to impact the unemployment problem amongst veterans they would need to hire a larger percentage of veterans than 9% of new hires, they're not.  Even if we give Walmart the benefit of the doubt, let's pretend for a moment that Walmart is a good place to work (far fetched I know but work with me), and we assume that all of the veterans who are hired stay at the company, they will still make up only 7% of the associates.  Shame on Walmart for releasing this as if they were helping, they're actually acting socially irresponsible again, but this time they're preying on people who pride themselves on being patriotic.  Walmart is not patriotic, Walmart is anti-American.

Walmart also claimed they will buy $5 billion more in American products per year over the next 10 years.  They want us to believe they are doing Americans a favor when they mention that they already spend 66% of their money on products made stateside.  However, a huge portion of Walmart's business is grocery and if you ever notice, it is very easy to find American produced products in the grocery store.  It is not as easy to find American made products in a clothing store.  Walk the aisles of apparel, sneakers, slippers, electronics, sporting goods, housewares and note that those products made in America represent far below the 66% number Walmart is boasting.  Last year grocery and consumables (the almost all American department) comprised 55% of Walmarts net sales.  

"According to Walmart’s 2012 annual report, the firm increased its cost of sales (an accounting term that basically tells you what it pays its suppliers for products) by more than $21 billion from 2011 to 2012. This figure is more or less in line with annual increases in Walmart’s recent history. In other words, in a typical year of late, Walmart buys $21 billion more products than it did the previous year. Walmart doesn’t break out what percentage of these incremental costs are attributed to Walmart U.S., Walmart International, or Sam’s Club, but if we assume that the proportions mirror those of the firm’s operating profits, that would mean Walmart U.S. spends about $15 billion more each year on products than it did the year before.
So by promising to buy $5 billion more each year in U.S. sourced products, Walmart is promising to spend one-third of its annual new spending on U.S.-sourced products. Not bad, right? But Simon claimed in his speech yesterday that “items that are made here, sourced here, or grown here account for about two-thirds of what we spend to buy products at Walmart U.S.” If this is true, then shouldn’t Walmart promise — at the very least — to maintain that two-thirds proportion in its new spending?" - Time
Don't believe the hype, it's only hype.  Walmart isn't doing us any favors.  They are still a driving force behind outsourcing, the income disparity between rich/poor, dwindling benefits, the increase of part time workers over full time workers, and the destruction of the American small business.

No other company has played as pivotal a role as Walmart has in the demise of U.S. manufacturing over the last 30 years,” senior researcher Stacy Mitchell said in a statement. “Its relentless insistence that suppliers provide ever lower prices has forced countless companies to shift production overseas, eliminating jobs and undermining America’s industrial capacity.” - ABC News

Americans should want better out of our largest employers, we are turning into a nation of have nots, and we are doing it to ourselves. 

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