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Reading in the Philadelphia Inquirer today a quote by a hiring manager from Wal-Mart caught my eye.  What struck me about this was that the brief piece noted that he worked at a “hiring center”.  That sounds interesting, because one might normally expect hiring to occur at the store level, not at a separate, specially designated center.  A quick google search unearthed an article noting that WMT had recently opened a hiring center, in Woodbury, NJ to help find 550 workers for a new facility in Deptford, NJ.  According to the New Jersey CAFR,  back in 2006 (as former state budget analyst, trust me, the wheels of government grind slowly and its hard to get very up to date information) WMT was the 6th largest employer in NJ after Shop Rite, Verizon, UPS, Harrah’s and J&J.  So here we have one of NJ’s largest employers actually expanding operations to hire new workers in the ninth most populous state next door to the nation’s sixth largest city.

Naturally, the people mentioned in the article appear to be looking for sympathy, but again, we see who WMT helps to employ.  One of the interviewees is a former real estate salesman.  Even money would bet that this gentlemen came to the real estate game during the recent bubble lured by the promise of quick riches with low barriers to entry (rumour has it that a typical real estate exam requires a pulse and little else).  None of this is made explicit in the article, but one can’t help but wonder. It seems as though WMT tends to catch individuals who have made mistakes in the past, whether that may be banking on a ethereal industry like real estate or having several children out of wed-lock that makes it difficult to find permanent work.  The members of one family of three interviewed have been unable to find work since October 2007. These individuals are normally supported by the social safety net.  However, in some instance, this breaks down.  In the case of the real estate agent, health benefits for him and his wife run to $1,300.  In other G7 nations, that is provided by the state.  Here, it will be provided by WMT, either directly or through a salary that helps to fund that cost.

So, while we don’t have a government safety net that provides employment or benefits to the family of three or health benefits for the Mr. and Mrs. Real Estate Agent, we have WMT.  More interestingly, WMT’s revenue stream this day appears more robust than that of the US or local municipalities!

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