Setting the mood ahead of tomorrow’s “critical” for the Fed’s September rate hike decision payrolls report, moments ago, WSJ reported that Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut 7,000 back office positions around the country, a restructuring move that in addition to seeking to improve its efficiency, will drastically alter the layout of its workforce, which as recently as a year ago was delighted by WMT’s minimum wage price hikes.
WSJ reports that the country’s largest private employer is eliminating about 7,000 U.S. store accounting and invoicing positions over the next several months, jobs mostly held by long-term employees, often some of the highest paid hourly workers in stores. The retailer wants those employees working with shoppers, not in backrooms, say company executives. Centralizing or automating much of those tasks is more efficient, they say.
The jobs are coveted as a rare desk job in retail. “You are not running around the store on your feet all day,” and receive decent pay, says a Wal-Mart store accounting employee who earns about $13 an hour, or $27,000 a year. “Everybody wants to get in there. The jobs never open up,” says this person, who has worked at the store for nine years.
In an ironic twist, WSJ notes that the back office cuts to Wal-Mart’s 4,600 U.S. stores is a sign that retail workers face big changes as their employers spend heavily to compete with Amazon.com Inc. and grab foot traffic from other chains. What is ironic is that at least according to the BLS’ Arima X 13 seasonally adjusting and goalseeking model, retailers remain one the nation’s most aggressively hiring sectors in recent years.
The positions Wal-Mart is eliminating manage an individual store’s daily cash flow or process claims from manufacturers delivering goods directly to stores, among other tasks. Starting early next year, much of that work will be handled by a central office or new money-counting “cash recycler” machines in stores. Wal-Mart tested the change in about 500 stores earlier this year.
And with that behind us, we now eagerly look forward to tomorrow’s strong jobs report beat.
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