NEW YORK – Why wait on Washington when there’s Wal-Mart?
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer and the biggest private employer in the U.S. with 1.4 million workers here, said Tuesday that it is rolling out a three-part plan to help jumpstart the sluggish U.S. economy.
The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions.
The centerpiece of Wal-Mart’s plan is a pledge to hire veterans, many of whom have had a particularly difficult time finding work after coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq. The unemployment rate for veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan stood at 10.8 percent in December, compared with the overall unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
Wal-Mart said it plans to hire every veteran who wants a job and has been honorably discharged in the first 12 months off active duty. The program, which will start on Memorial Day, will include jobs mostly in Wal-Mart’s stores or in its Sam’s Club locations. Some will be at its headquarters, based in Bentonville, Ark. or the company’s distribution centers.
In the next several weeks, the White House will meet with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and major U.S. employers to encourage businesses to make commitments to train and employ American’s returning veterans, said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S. business.
In addition to hiring veterans, Wal-Mart plans to spend $50 billion to buy more products made in the U.S. over the next 10 years.
The final piece of Wal-Mart’s plan is to help part-time Wal-Mart workers transition into full-time employment if they so desire. Among the strategies, Wal-Mart said it will make sure that its part-time workers have “first shot” at the full-time job openings in the stores in their area.