For whatever reason, Walmart isn’t crediting the GOP tax bill for this decision, but the Wall Street Journal reports that the company is set to cut 1,000 jobs, primarily hitting the retailer’s headquarters in Bentonville:
The job cuts are expected to be broad-based, focused on workers primarily at the company’s headquarters. … The cuts are expected to be completed by the end of the company’s fiscal year on Jan. 31. …
“We’ve been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said, without confirming that job cuts are planned this month.
These pink slips come on top of around 10,000 store jobs being cut as Walmart closes 63 Sam’s Club stores.
The retailer is reportedly cutting costs and stores in an effort to invest more in e-commerce to compete with Amazon. It also closed more than 150 stores in 2016 and has reduced the pace of new openings.
Walmart has not yet confirmed the new round of layoffs. The retailer also cut around 1,000 administrative employees a year ago, around half of them in Bentonville, and cut around 300 informations systems positions in April.
The news comes the day after Walmart trumpeted a one-dollar boost in its minimum starting wage and bonuses starting at $250 for employees who have worked for the company for at least two years. The company dubiously claimed these moves came in response to the GOP tax bill, which handed a windfall of billions of dollars to the retail behemoth. As analysts in the Journal and elsewhere have pointed out, the costs of these moves were a tiny fraction of the mammoth tax benefit, which will likely amount to around $2 billion per year — and Walmart was almost certainly going to hike wages regardless of the tax cut because of competition for low-skilled hourly employees. Indeed, Walmart made similar wage hikes in 2015 and 2016; CEO Doug McMillon told shareholders in October, months before the tax cut passed, that he expected wages to keep rising because of a tight labor market; new minimum wage laws in a number of states are above Walmart’s previous floor; and as the Journal reported on Thursday, “Wal-Mart already has a ‘sizable’ group of stores paying employees at least $11 an hour and already had plans to increase wages in some stores during its coming fiscal year, which starts Feb. 1, according spokesman Kory Lundberg.” It is certainly happy news that Walmart is incrementally increasing its wages, but the notion that this only happened because the Trump administration handed the company a massive tax windfall strains credulity. That was just a PR gambit to try to sell the country on corporate tax cuts.
There’s no positive spin, meanwhile, to put on this year’s round of layoffs. Many of the jobs are presumably well-paid positions so this could amount to a significant economic hit in Northwest Arkansas.