Retail is hiring again.
Much of that job growth will be centered in logistics and supply chain roles, both full-time and part-time, as keeping up with consumer demand continues to be a challenge.
Walmart Stores Inc. on Wednesday said it plans to hire 20,000 workers across its supply chain. The company reported second-quarter earnings last week and noted plans to roll out high-tech automation systems to its facilities, in addition to high-tech grocery distribution centers. The new jobs will support that growth across more than 250 Walmart and Sam’s Club distribution centers (DC), fulfillment centers (FC) and transportation offices. The discounter will be holding special hiring events on Sept. 8-9 in all its supply chain locations. Positions it is seeking to fill include order fillers, freight handlers, lift drivers, technicians and management positions. The average pay for supply chain associates is $20.37 per hour, Walmart said.
“At Walmart, what starts as a job has the potential to lead to a limitless and rewarding career. Whether you’re new to the workforce or you’re looking for a fresh start, this is the place to continue your professional journey,” the discounter said, noting that many of its managers started their career as order fillers.
The discounter also said associates would receive company benefits, including medical, and training through the opening of six new Walmart Academies to support the supply chain business. “Walmart Academies immerse associates in a training program that allows them to receive both classroom and DC/FC floor training in specialized supply chain skills and soft skills like leadership, communications and change management,” Walmart said. “In [Fiscal Year 2021], we trained approximately 5,900 associates via the Walmart U.S. Supply Chain Academy, including in-person and virtual trainings.”
The discounter said that in addition to job training, associates are encouraged to participate in its new program, Live Better U, in which the retailer would pay 100 percent of the cost of tuition and books, enabling supply chain associates to get their bachelor’s degrees debt-free. Furthermore, new associates who get vaccinated before Oct. 4 or who were vaccinated prior to their hire date are eligible for a $150 bonus.
Walmart isn’t the only retailer offering special benefits for new hires. Dollar General Corp. is offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus to drivers with an active Commercial Driver’s License hired through Jan. 28, 2022. In addition to bonus opportunities, the dollar store just began an initiative that allows drivers to bring along one “co-pilot” on their routes. The “co-pilot” has to be a dog or cat of an eligible breed. Fleet drivers also earn competitive mileage-based pay, unload pay and annual bonus opportunities.
Dollar General is on the hunt for additional workers at its stores, DCs, its DG Private Fleet and its store support center. The dollar store said that it has hired over 50,000 employees since in mid-July.
“At Dollar General, we continue to invest in our diverse teams through development, empowerment and inclusion, and we encourage candidates looking to join a purpose-driven company that provides unparalleled employee development to apply online,” Kathy Reardon, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief people officer, said.
Other positions available include those at the dollar store’s 27 traditional (dry goods) and Fresh DCs in general warehouse, human resources, inventory control, maintenance, training and administration areas.
“Our distribution centers and private fleet network are the heartbeat of DG’s supply chain and demonstrate our mission of “Serving Others” by playing a critical role in ensuring customers find the products they need at their local Dollar General,” Tony Zuazo, executive vice president of global supply chain, said.
Retail store roles include regional directors, managers across district and store positions, and full-time and part-time sales associates. Eligible employees also receive savings and retirement plans, health benefits and tuition reimbursement.
Dollar General’s competitor Dollar Tree Inc. last month hosted two hiring events, seeking full-time and part-time employees for a wide range of warehouse roles at one event, and store managers and DC leadership positions at the other “job fair.” Those jobs also offer eligible candidates a warehouse benefits package, along with flexible schedules. Other benefits include tuition discounts and reimbursement allowances. The company has 26 U.S. DCs and operate stores under the Dollar Tree and Family Dollar banners. Dollar Tree said last month that it was looking to hire about 3,500 associates in time for the peak holiday season. The company last year started its DailyPay option, a benefit that allows associates to receive their earnings in between traditional paydays.
News of the soon-to-be-added retail jobs comes on the heels of a private payroll report on Wednesday from ADP. The payroll services firm said U.S. firms created far fewer jobs than expected in August, with the number of new jobs totaling 374,000. That tally is far lower than the 600,000 positions that many economists were expecting. July’s tally was revised downward to 326,000 from the initial reading of 330,000, a figure that also was far lower than the 680,000 that had been added in June.
In fact, ADP’s July report on the private employment sector showed that a slowdown might be underway as it indicated that new job activity was stalling for the second straight month. That hasn’t changed moving into August. While the economy is still creating jobs, it is doing so at a far lower rate than earlier in the year.
According to the latest ADP report, most of the new jobs are in leisure and hospitality, not retail. What isn’t clear yet is what the impact the rising Covid cases might have on the jobs recovery front. This past summer saw a spike in cases from the Delta variant. Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report from the Department of Labor might provide some clues. Current expectations are for 720,00 new jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent. The ADP report and that of the Labor Department don’t always match up, perhaps due to when and how the data is collected.
However, there are potentially other indications that an economic slowdown could be in the works, at least on the consumer spending front.
On Tuesday, The Conference Board’s widely-tracked Consumer Confidence Index ended August down 11.3 points to 113.8, representing its lowest level since February 2021 when the Index stood at 95.2. The Present Situation Index, measuring sentiment of current business and labor market conditions, fell to 147.3 from 157.2 last month. And the Expectations Index, which measures the short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, dropped to 91.4 from 103.8. On the jobs front, respondents were somewhat less enthusiastic about opportunities ahead.
A hint of what was to come regarding a consumer slowdown came earlier in August from a lesser-followed report from the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers. The Michigan Index saw August ending the month at 70.3, down 13.4 percent from July’s 81.2 reading.
Because of the ongoing spikes in Covid cases due to the Delta variant, and increases in prices for some consumer items, it’s hard to tell if current sentiment is the beginning of a trend or just a temporary blip.