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 retailer’s history, a company official says. Despite the fact the company says these numbers underscore demand for Wal—Mart jobs in the community, critics wonder how many of these positions are lower—paying part—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 “we got an amazing response.” “That incredible number of applications shows the community thinks Wal-Mart is a great place to work,” 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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Rick DeMent says:

    I would imagin that if say GE had an “opening” for CEO where all comers could “apply” they would get at least that many applicents, no?

    Hell I’d apply … but this humorious comment aside.

    “That incredible number of applications shows the community thinks Wal-Mart is a great place to work,”

    No what it shows is that the economy is so bad that that many people have little choice then to work at Wal-Mart.

    The fundamental fact of economics that the supporters seem not to get is that if the race to the bottom continues unabated even people with degrees will be in the line for Wal-Mart jobs because there is nothing that can’t be done somewhere else cheaper. Even CEO’s, I mean why not get a top performer from Asia or Europe who are used to working for far, far less. Yet the executive suite seems to be insulated from these fundamental economic rules that hold sway over the rest of us.

    What this tels me is that the economy for wage earners is crap.

  2. Max says:

    Well, let’s see, in a bad economy, Wal-Mart is creating jobs. So, let’s attack Wal-Mart and make it hard as possible for them to open new stores and create jobs. That will show our concern for the economy AND our solidarity with workers.

  3. Legal lady says:

    Although I am happy for the new job opportunities for people…that comments IS pretty ridiculous. Pepole apply for jobs because they just need a job…not because they would love to work at that particular place.

  4. McGehee says:

    What this tels me is that the economy for wage earners is crap.

    All the more reason to ditch the proletariat and become a capitalist (entrepreneur).

  5. none says:

    Max, you haven’t been listening. The economy is doing very well. Everything’s great! Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in years. We’re creating tons-o-jobs. Deficits don’t matter. I think you should go spend some more time at GOP.com. You’ll feel better after hearing all the pretty stories.

  6. Ginifer says:

    No one finds this bizarre? There are 25,000 applications for 325 openings in the Chicago area. Might be that the local economy is in the pits and the only jobs that one can find is for minimum wage and possibly part-time. People will work at low paying jobs just in order to feed themselves and their families. I think it’s shows the economy is not so robust in certain areas of the country…not when you have to apply for a job with limited benefits and low pay. With all the out-sourcing of decent jobs and lay-offs this is what we have to look forward to – cashier or stock worker at Wal-Marts—-enjoy.

  7. Rick DeMent says:

    McGhee,

    Actually I am (a capitalist / entrepreneur), thanks for asking. But in order to make money I have to have a large population of people with disposable income. These Wal-Mart workers don’t get paid enough to pay for my goods and services. The former group of people (solid middle class with some to lots of disposable income)is shrinking, not growing which is sort of born out by the article that James cited.

  8. Jonk says:

    I wonder how many PhDs you will find in those 25k applications.

  9. Dmitry says:

    I think of it as market economics. If people are applying, and willing to work for $11 an hour, awsome. Why would Wal Mart pay more for full-time workers, if they can fill the positions with part-timers, and not pay benefits? It does not make business sence for them. They are in buiseness to make money, not make their employees comfortable or wealthy. If they hired everyone but the essential personnel as part-timers, good for them. They would pay out less in benefits, and make higher profits. That’s what having a business is about, saving costs. People that complain about crappy work ethics of Wal Mart, and a bad evironment to work in, should quit their jobs and find a better place to work. Take control of your own life; there is absolutely no reason Wal Mart should pay any more than nesessary.

  10. ken says:

    ..I am (a capitalist / entrepreneur).. But in order to make money I have to have a large population of people with disposable income. These Wal-Mart workers don’t get paid enough to pay for my goods and services. The former group of people (solid middle class with some to lots of disposable income)is shrinking, not growing…

    This need for business to have plenty of customers with disposable income used to be widely understood. There was a time when wage supports, be they labor contracts or minimum wage increases, where almost univerally supported.

    Then the conservative demonization of unions and low income people became conventional wisdom and America has suffered ever since. There was once a time when a barber shop, a shoe store, a contractor, would support grocery store strikes for example. Not any more. Even if it means that their customers will have less money to spend on their products/services, they would still rather see the unions destroyed. Then, good republicans that they are, they complain because people who once had union negotiated health benefits are now taking public assistence to pay for their medications. And for all that, they are no better off themselves. They still have to work like a dog to make a living.

    Perhaps they take some sick pleasure in seeing others lose a degree of security that they, as business owners, have never enjoyed.

  11. Max says:

    Dear “none”

    You need to work on your reading comprehension skills. Try for that GED.

  12. McGehee says:

    Then the conservative demonization of … low income people…

    I don’t think that’s water you’re drinking there, Ken.

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    No what it shows is that the economy is so bad that that many people have little choice then to work at Wal-Mart.

    Oh please, it does not. You correctly point out a ridiculous statement by the Wal-Mart PR guy, then turn around and make a similarly nonsensical statement but in diametric opposition.

    The fundamental fact of economics that the supporters seem not to get is that if the race to the bottom continues unabated even people with degrees will be in the line for Wal-Mart jobs because there is nothing that can’t be done somewhere else cheaper.

    Gee Rick, I didn’t know you were a Marxist. Of course, most serious students of economics and the economy ditched Marx’ immiseration of the proletariat about 100 years ago.

    Even CEO’s, I mean why not get a top performer from Asia or Europe who are used to working for far, far less.

    Gee…you mean Toyota and Honda don’t have plants here with their CEOs in Tokyo?

    C’mon Rick you can do much better than this.

  14. Just Me says:

    I could actually make more money at Wal-Mart than I do at my current job, which requires at least two years of college (although I have a masters degree and work my current job for reasons that make it worth the crappy pay). Wal-Mart in my immediate areas pays a little more than a $1 more than my current pay for inexperienced workers, more if they have experience. If I wanted to commute 30 minutes I could make about $3 more per hour.

  15. Rick DeMent says:

    What did I say that was in any sense Marxist? I simply pointed out that given today’s technology there is simply no job that can’t be done cheaper somewhere else with the exception of those tasks that requires a physical presents. That means that accounting, marketing, business processes, engineering, product development, you name it, can be and will be done somewhere other then the US in time. What is it about that simple observation is in any way Marxist, or do you simply throw that around that word when you can’t think of anything clever to say? Come on Steve you can do better then this … wait, on second though maybe you can’t.

    Gee…you mean Toyota and Honda don’t have plants here with their CEOs in Tokyo?

    God this is good, I almost spit coffee on my keyboard, you do understand that the reason that Toyota and Honda have plants here in the US is do to protectionists laws that limit the ability of foreign automakers to import product. Or did that tid-bit of news escape your attention?

    The question I want answered is why companies pay senior level management huge salaries when they could hire foreign executives with many years of management experience for a third of the cost. I’m mean if we are going to globalize then let’s do it and get all economic sectors in on the fun race to the bottom. Hell companies move their headquarters to off shore island nations to get out of paying taxes why not move the executive team to Bosnia where there are few, if any, oppressive regulations holding them back?

  16. Steve Verdon says:

    Rick,

    Your immiseration hypothesis fits right in with Marxist theory.

    The tendency to pay the workers bare survival wages leads to the increasing immiseration of the proletariat.

    This is right in line with your comment,

    The fundamental fact of economics that the supporters seem not to get is that if the race to the bottom continues unabated even people with degrees will be in the line for Wal-Mart jobs because there is nothing that can?t be done somewhere else cheaper.

    You clearly see the market economy as one where workers are paid smaller and smaller salaries.

    That means that accounting, marketing, business processes, engineering, product development, you name it, can be and will be done somewhere other then the US in time.

    Specious nonsense. You really want us to believe that there will eventually be 100% unemployment in the U.S., that nobody will have a job? Please. The reason for offshoring isn’t simply just that it can be done somewhere else cheaper, but a host of factors. Further, even if true, the market will equilibrate and that means that there will be a point where the problem you are pointing too will no longer exist.

    What is it about that simple observation is in any way Marxist, or do you simply throw that around that word when you can’t think of anything clever to say?

    Rick, you are confusing yourself with me.

    God this is good, I almost spit coffee on my keyboard, you do understand that the reason that Toyota and Honda have plants here in the US is do to protectionists laws that limit the ability of foreign automakers to import product. Or did that tid-bit of news escape your attention?

    Of course, I knew this. The point is that there are “offshore CEO’s” hence your observation is false. There are plenty of companies that get bought out by offshore interests.

    The question I want answered is why companies pay senior level management huge salaries when they could hire foreign executives with many years of management experience for a third of the cost.

    Because costs are only a part of the issue. Others are culture, language, distance, etc. To focus on just one variable is what has lead to making a silly statement.

    I’m mean if we are going to globalize then let’s do it and get all economic sectors in on the fun race to the bottom.

    There is that Marxism again. Maybe you should go read some Krugman.

    Hell companies move their headquarters to off shore island nations to get out of paying taxes why not move the executive team to Bosnia where there are few, if any, oppressive regulations holding them back?

    My that was incredibly stupid.

  17. Rick DeMent says:

    You know the funny thing is that if you an I sat down and talked over a beer you would find out that we agree much more then we disagree. And not you have thrown out much more then I care to take the time to rebut, after all I * am * an entrepreneur with a fiduciary responsibility to my business. Where we disagree is simply on whether or not the laws we make should benefit markets or benefit individuals and what should we do when they conflict.