Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, delivered a message on Tuesday to US veterans looking for work: We want you!
America’s largest private employer announced plans to hire more than 100,000 US veterans over the next five years as part of a program to offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty.
Walmart also said that beginning Memorial Day, May 27, veterans who apply would have priority placement.
“There’s a very special group of Americans to whom we owe an unpayable debt: our nation’s veterans,” said Bill Simon, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Walmart’s US division in a speech on Tuesday.
“I can think of no better group to lead in revitalizing our economy than those who have served in uniform,” he added.
He said Walmart officials have worked with First Lady Michelle Obama and expect the White House to make a significant push in the coming weeks to get other US businesses to train and employ veterans.
There are an estimated 757,000 US veterans who are unemployed, including 100,000 female veterans, according to the latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That represents an overall unemployment rate of 7 percent for all veterans, and 9.1 percent for female vets. The general population has a 7.5 percent unemployment rate in the US.
“Sadly, too many of those who fought for us abroad now find themselves fighting for jobs at home,” Simon said. “Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom. When they return, it must be to a land of possibility.”
Simon said at any given point in time there are between 15,000 and 50,000 job postings at Walmart. About 75 percent of store managers started as hourly associates, and their average pay is today between $50,000 and $170,000 a year, Simon said.
The company also announced plans to significantly step up purchases of US products, and said it expects to buy an additional $50 billion in US merchandise over the next ten years.