Wal-Mart Gets 25,000 Applications for 325 Jobs
Wal-Mart got 25,000 applications for 325 openings for a new Chicago area store. This has the usual suspects lining up.
The new Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location opening Friday in suburban Evergreen Park received a record 25,000 applications for 325 positions, the highest for any one location in the retailerÃ¢€™s history, a company official says. Despite the fact the company says these numbers underscore demand for WalÃ¢€”Mart jobs in the community, critics wonder how many of these positions are lowerÃ¢€”paying partÃ¢€”time work.
Wal-Mart’s Chicago-area manager Chad Donath said generally stores receive between 3,000 and 4,000 applications for about 300 to 450 positions. He says Wal-Mart has been participating in job fairs and advertising the positions as it does in other communities but this time Ã¢€œwe got an amazing response.Ã¢€ Ã¢€œThat incredible number of applications shows the community thinks Wal-Mart is a great place to work,Ã¢€ Mr. Donath says.
Well, no. What it shows, though, is that 25,000 people would prefer to work in those jobs than the jobs they have–or don’t have–at the moment.
That’s the fundamental fact of economics that the critics seem not to get. Sure, for those with college educations or substantial technical skills in high demand in the marketplace, work as a stocker or cashier in the retail industry would be undesirable. It’s hard, stressful, unsatisfying work. But there would appear to be 25,000 people out there who consider those jobs a step up.
Arguably, Wal-Mart is actually overpaying for these jobs, likely because of minimum wage laws and other governmental regulations. If 79 qualified people are applying for every job, then the conditions of work are surely more desirable than they need to be. One imagines that Wal-Mart could, if it had the flexibility, cut the salaries and/or benefits offered and still attract, say, two applicants per opening.
This isn’t just an educated professional talking about situations that “those people” find themselves in. I have a doctorate in political science and have found myself in precisely the same situation as those Wal-Mart applicants when on the academic job market. Indeed, there were often many more than 79 highly qualified applicants–Ph.D.s with publications and teaching experience–for each college teaching position that I applied for.
Because the academic market is so tight, universities have adopted virtually the same attitude toward aspiring professors as Wal-Mart does to prospective stockers. They demand heavy teaching loads, substantial committee work, a rigorous pace of professional publication, and often rather paltry salaries. And that’s for people who have, on average, twenty-two or more years of schooling.