Walmart aims to hire 20,000 supply chain employees as it ramps up for the holiday season
A shopper loads items into a vehicle outside a Walmart store in San Leandro, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 13, 2021.David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesWalmart said Wednesday it plans to hire 20,000 employees to help keep merchandise moving ahead of the anticipated holiday shopping rush.The big-box retailer, which is already the nation’s largest employer, said the roles will be in supply chain. The jobs will be a mix of full-time and part-time, but will be permanent positions. They will range from order fillers to freight handlers at the company’s more than 250 distribution centers, fulfillment centers and transportation offices.The average wage for a supply chain associate is $20.37 per hour, Walmart said in the corporate blog post. The company said it will hold special hiring events Sept. 8 and 9.Walmart is staffing up as companies cope with fierce competition for workers and Covid-19 outbreaks that have halted manufacturing, slowed shipping and led to congested ports across the globe. These challenges have translated into delays, out-of-stock items and higher prices across the industry. They have also raised questions about whether retailers will be prepared for the peak season of gift-giving — particularly as more of that shopping takes place online.Walmart has not yet announced plans for holiday hiring. Last year, the retailer said it would hire 20,000 seasonal associates, the first time in five years it had announced significant holiday hiring.The company has also ramped up supply chain investments, such as adding high-tech, automated systems to select stores that help pick and pack online grocery orders.Walmart said in August it was seeing strong demand for back-to-school supplies, luggage, apparel and more, as consumers flocked back to stores. Chief financial officer Brett Biggs said on a second-quarter earnings call that the company has increased lead times for orders and chartered its own dedicated vessels to speed up imports. Even so, he said, “out-of-stocks in certain general merchandise categories are running above normal, given strong sales and supply constraints.”As Walmart competes with other employers for hourly workers, it has sought to sweeten the deal. It recently began paying special bonuses to warehouse workers and covering 100% of college tuition and textbook costs for employees.Other retailers have announced similar perks and policy changes. Among them, Target rolled out its own debt-free college program. CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance said they would boost their starting wages to $15 an hour, and CVS said it would drop education requirements for entry-level jobs.