Thank god for Wal*Mart

Wow. How bad are things in Cleveland, anyway?

As the world’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart is used to being greeted by large numbers of applicants almost every time it opens a new store.

But the 6,000-plus people who applied for jobs at the new Supercenter in Cleveland’s Steelyard Commons took everyone, even Wal-Mart, by surprise.

“We had to recount [the applications] three times,” said Mia Masten, Wal-Mart’s director of corporate affairs, Midwest division. (Source)

That’s 6,000 applications for 300 jobs. Or 20 for every open slot. The reporter does a nice job of stating the situation succinctly:

When thousands of people compete for a few hundred ordinary jobs, trend watchers say it’s an indication not only of a less-than-stellar economy but also of a workforce short on marketable skills.

This isn’t an isolated case, either. The article goes on to note that 40,000 people recently applied for jobs at two Chicago-area Wal*Marts.

There’s more wrong here than I have time to tackle, but suffice it to say that it’s probably not the salary or benefits.

The term “working poor” has fallen into common use, unfortunately, despite the fact that for the past several years I’ve had to listen to all kinds of government and business officials telling me how good I have it.

Of course, maybe it is just me, according to this. Just me … and damned near everybody I know.

In any case, do your own math. The bottom line is that it’s apparently so bad in Cleveland and Chicago (and one suppose a lot of other cities) that Wal*Mart looks like better days.

Happy Holidays.

Thx: Steve Reynolds
Now playing: Trances Arc – “Birds Collide”

9 replies »

  1. I can easily believe that there’s a lot more discretionary out there right now. I don’t know the story behind all of the new mega-yachts that go down the intercoastal, but the sheer number of them belies a lot of cash swimming around. Despite the supposed mortgage crisis, banks are lining up to loan money because their cost of borrowing has gone down. I guess that as long as one is creditworthy, one can pretty well borrow as much as they want…business as usual. I, myself have no personal debt whatsoever, everything is paid off. The only time I use debt is for my margin accounts. I subscribe to the old notion that you should only use debt for things that will make you money.

  2. I dream of debt freedom day. Unload a bad house investment, pay off the student loans and some credit card debt and I’m there.

    Of course, that’s a formula with a lot of “if” in it….

  3. The only time I use debt is for my margin accounts.

    You use debt in the commodities market?

    My admiration for your courage has no bounds.

  4. It’s not that I don’t think there’s discretionary income. It’s that I have a hard time believing how many people have it. I’d guess lots of money in fewer hands.

  5. Plus you have to factor in regional job markets, including what a given area’s chief industries are. D.C., for example, is weathering the housing slump better than some areas, because we have a steady infusion of jobs from the public sector. So there’s more income to go around, even if a lot of those jobs are crappy 1099 contractor positions with no health benefits or stability.

    I have no trouble believing that in areas that don’t have that regular influx of money, like many Midwestern urban and regional hubs, Wal-Mart is rapidly becoming the only game in town.

  6. What a sad day when a Wal-Mart in Cleveland gets roughly the same number of applicants as the DoS does for its foreign service posts…and those come with benefits.

    The worm has turned, eh? It seems like a lot of people saying, let me work, i’ll do anything…i just need the money. And i thought that NAFTA and MFN status for China was going to free up the US work force for bigger and better things. Those things turned out to be begging for a job at Wal-Mart to pay of the CC bills racked up at Wal-Mart on Chinese products.

    So what happens to all these Wal-Mart jobs if the predicted recession materializes? Or Congress imposes a tariff on Chinese goods to counteract the “undervalued” Yuan and effectively raises all the prices at Wal-Mart by 30%? If you thought that the rust belt was aesthetically unpleasing, imagine the abandoned consumer mega-mart belt stretching from see to shining sea… Or maybe Wal-Mart will keep people in work for the good of the nation, patriotism and all that. (Excuse me while i choke on my own sarcasm.)

    If there wasn’t a blizzard outside, i’d rush down to the local China-mart and buy a tacky bald eagle t-shirt to make me feel better. Shopping will keep the terrorists at bay, and nothing is more patriotic than credit card debt. Just because you’re underemployed (i.e. working poor) doesn’t mean that anyone has to know: charge it!

  7. JS:

    I’m flattered that you think I have courage. Actually, courage is the one thing I severely lack. If I had courage, I’d either be richer than Bill Gates, or destitute…take your pick.

    I use debt for trading because I can borrow money for a few basis points above the interbank rate. Debt increases my leverage, which can be a double edged sword depending on if I’m right or wrong. I like to put on pretty big positions, especially in the grains, and the margin on 3 million bushels of wheat (600 contracts) is pretty high, hence the use of debt.

    I am very risk adverse, and generally will buy or sell some options(as insurance) against my position to hedge against losses. The options strategy helps me to quantify my risk exactly, which allows me to think more clearly and removes any uncertainty….and is a small price to pay for managable risk. I somehow have the knack for knowing when a trade is wrong and I have enough self-discipline to get out of it immediately, because I subscribe to the school that “Your first loss is your smallest loss.” I’m wrong about 40-45% of the time, and take the hit as soon as I know I’m wrong. Commodities are nice about letting you know if you’re right or wrong. Whereas in the stock market, it might take days or weeks to find out if you’re wrong, in commodities you know in minutes…the tape will never lie.