Why Wal-Mart is hiring so many veterans

The company is getting some positive word of mouth for its plan. It also gets some help with its huge turnover.

By Jonathan Berr Jan 15, 2013 4:18PM
Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, New Jersey / Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWal-Mart Stores (WMT) isn't planning to hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years out of the goodness of its heart, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

As Matthew Yglesias at Slate notes,  "Wal-Mart is anticipating that demand conditions will warrant them adding a fair amount of staff over the next few years and that honorable service in the military is a good screening device."

Wall Street didn't have much response to the program, which goes into effect Memorial Day along with a pledge to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S.-made goods over the next decade. Shares of Wal-Mart, whose offer is only open to those with honorable discharges, barely budged Tuesday.

Derek Thompson at the Atlantic argued that Wal-Mart has been besieged lately by negative news such as the bribery scandal in Mexico and certainly could use some positive public relations. He also noted that Wal-Mart, like many retailers, has a huge turnover, so promising 100,000 veterans a job isn't as generous of an offer as it may seem. Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though, could certainly use the help.

According to the latest data, the unemployment rate for former members of the military was 9.9%, the lowest since 2008, though well above the national average of 7.8%. That's particularly shameful given the billions taxpayers have spent training soldiers, sailors and Marines to do every type of job imaginable. Sadly, there were record numbers of suicides in the military last year. Of course, Wal-Mart's offer doesn't solve veterans' many problems but it certainly is helpful.

Veterans will be eligible for everything from part-time work to more senior roles, depending on their particular qualifications, according to Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark., company.

"If they want a job in retail, they have one at Wal-Mart," she said in an interview.

The push to hire veterans is nothing new for Wal-Mart. It has recruited members of the military for managerial roles for years and currently has about 100,000 veterans on its U.S. payroll of 1.4 million. William Simon, the head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, served in the Navy. The company pledged in 2011 to donate $20 million to veterans charities, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which applauded Tuesday's announcement.

'With unemployment for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans often above 10% in 2012, we need more employers to appreciate that these young men and women are not a charity, they are an investment," says Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America,in a statement to MSN. "Wal-Mart's footprint is large enough that they can single-handedly impact that unemployment number, especially if they exceed their 100,000 jobs goal."

Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how many veterans will take Wal-Mart up on its offer and, of those that do, how many wind up sticking around for a year or more. That may prove to be a vexing challenge, as the Atlantic's Thompson notes.

"I know this may sound like quibbling, but Wal-Mart -- just like pretty much all big-box retailers -- still pays most of its workforce pretty miserably," he writes. "The average sales associate makes around $8 an hour. If that's the best we can for our veterans, we're not really doing very much."

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Tags: Economy
Jan 22, 2013 11:57AM

Actual *starting* per-hour pay averages at Wal-Mart can be found here:   and average $11.13.   These are averages, so some start lower, some start higher.


Just sayin', right?

Jan 20, 2013 9:57PM
they will provide 28 hour work week with no benefits and take a Federal credit for each Veteran hired. They come on top. The Feds needs to make this offer for hiring Veterans that it is full time work with benefits with for at least 24 months
Jan 19, 2013 1:09AM

     First of all THANK YOU to all our Veterans, may the Good Lord keep his arm around you and protect you where ever life takes you.

    As for walMart it would be better that no job at all but they are among the worst emplorers there is. The pay is a slap in the face in todays economy and there are no benefits. But as someone said in an earlier post $8 an hour is better than nothing and it could be a stop over job until something else comes along.

   As for the unemployment in this county no matter what they report as the unemployment rate that is false and misleading because it counts only those individuals that are still drawing unemployment benefits and Does Not incluse those individuals whos unemployment benefits have run out and who still do not have a job.

Jan 17, 2013 8:15PM
Ask Walmart where our jobs went. Answer China! And we still shop there. Why? So don't complain about where are the jobs. Corporations and Politicians sold us down the river.
Jan 17, 2013 8:11PM
As long as a few Americans are making money whats the big deal supporting communist china.
Jan 17, 2013 11:14AM
stop watching fox news and go take a job a walmart yourself. Has nothing to do with wanting "entitlements". Walmart is absolutely cruel in its workplace practices, and they could care less about those veterans let alone any of their employees. If their sudden patriotic desire to hire veterans were the case, they would've been hiring them in such numbers long before now. The big fat tax incentive is what's currently driving them. Who are they kidding?????? Honestly? I'd rather "pick those potatoes" in a field than work for walmart.
Jan 16, 2013 11:59PM

These Are The best Of the Comments!


Jan 16, 2013 4:39PM

It is hard for a big company to prevent some employees from doing bad things such as in Mexico. 

 If you do not like Walmart, then do not work or shop there.  Obviously a lot of people work and shop there  so they must be doing some things right. I know some that work there, and it is not the worst place to work by far.

Jan 16, 2013 3:15PM
fu...kk you wal-mart....who are you foolong?
Jan 16, 2013 3:03PM

I hear a lot of anger at Wal Mart from posters, but why do I always find the stores have shoppers in their Stores? I can tell there are shoppers in Wal Mart by the cars in the parking lot. If you don't like a store's business practices then don't shop there. I for one do not shop at Wal mart very often because I do like like the customer service there.

As far a Wal Mart hiring vets, it's a joke to me. I'm sure they will get some kind of tax break for this action, so it benefits them in ore ways then just PR value.


Jan 16, 2013 2:28PM
Total horse s**t! Largest supporter of communism needs a positive spin. They are no more intrested in the welfare of military veterans than the federal government is. A necessary evil to keep the minions in line. Once you have served that purpose phuck you even if we maimed you. You have to fight for veteran benefits from the azzholes running this ponzi scheme we call the United States. Anyone supporting this call for part-time, no benefit ploy to further a political agenda can suck my kok!
Jan 16, 2013 2:23PM

Just another PR move.  With all the turnover at the company there will be 100,000 positions open at some point that no one wants.

Jan 16, 2013 2:14PM

 I am resentful to Wal-Mart because they should have been openly accepting all qualified people from day one. Besides what this article states,  it seems like the store is actually highlighting the fact they have somewhat discriminated against Veterans until now. Waiting for a military based holiday to start the P.R. experiment just emphasizes it is a stunt. I will be even less likely to shop there & Sam's Club now.   Luckily other stores are coming to the plate with great prices and I don't mind if I have to go to three or four shops in the mall to get everything that I need.


★★ ★ Thank You Veterans!  ☆ ☆ ☆

Jan 16, 2013 2:10PM
why is no-one  alowed contact with walmart on there site, and employees know this, but keep shut or be fired. Most emplyees would like to speak, but not allowed.  I am not an emplyee, but this week notcontact to company is allowed phone or email.  Wonder why?
Jan 16, 2013 1:37PM
$8 an hour? Yea right that was a good wage 250 years ago. Today prices have tripled on everything and these jobs amount to slavery and nothing more. China's flood of cheap goods is destroying us. But necessary when our government prints money weakening the dollar to a point that all we can afford to buy is China crap. What happened to us? Eliminate China imports and factories will have to produce here in the US, raise prices to do it and raise wages as well and maybe everyone can get a piece of the American Dream. But Walmart flooding us with China made crap is the problem not the solution. I would never work for them and I am a veteran.
Jan 16, 2013 1:14PM
walmart needs more slaves for tax write offs. Vets really getting taken care off. pleaseeeee
Jan 16, 2013 1:05PM
Now if Costco steps up, then I would be inclined to believe it's a worthy cause.  Because it's WallMart, we can only suspect the worst.  Start pay of $9.50 per hr, unpredictabel work schedules, no benefits and stress levels enough to pull all your hair out!
Jan 16, 2013 12:30PM

the walmart warehouses start you at over $12.00 an hour .you work up to $ 20.00 an hour pretty fast.


yes it sucks but every job sucks . not everything about this company is bad .


if you work there lets say 10 years and leave you will get a check that will support you for months if not years.

Jan 16, 2013 12:27PM
Sad news for the Vets.  Now they have to work at WalMart.  My daughter worked there and yeah, they offer health insurance, but it would have taken over half her paycheck to sign up for it.  Pay was lousy, hours were lousy, and when she left after several years of service, they told her she wasn't eligible for re-hire or a good recommendation because she didn't give a full two weeks notice.  WalMart has ruined America and now they're trying to make themselves look like heroes by hitching their wagon to real heroes.  What a joke.
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