WW III — YES, IT’S A "WAL-MART AND WAR" ECONOMY

IN ANOTHER “SIGN-OF-THE-TIMES” —

Wal-Mart draws huge crowd – of applicants

Some say 6,000 job hunters a reflection on economy Monday, November 26, 2007Zachary LewisPlain Dealer Reporter
As the world’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart is used to being greeted by large numbers of applicants almost every time it opens a new store.

But the 6,000-plus people who applied for jobs at the new Supercenter in Cleveland’s Steelyard Commons took everyone, even Wal-Mart, by surprise.

“We had to recount [the applications] three times,” said Mia Masten, Wal-Mart’s director of corporate affairs, Midwest division.

When thousands of people compete for a few hundred ordinary jobs, trend watchers say it’s an indication not only of a less-than-stellar economy but also of a workforce short on marketable skills.

The huge number of applicants wouldn’t have caught anyone’s eye had these been skilled, high-paying jobs, the types of positions that thousands of people always seek.

But these were regular retail jobs with low-to-average wages and benefits, not the sort of positions typically in high demand. Target wouldn’t disclose the number of people who applied to work at its Steelyard Commons store.

Sadly, few of the people interested in working at Cleveland’s first Wal-Mart actually got a job.

Those 6,000 people were competing for some 300 positions. That means for every one person hired, 19 people walked away empty-handed.

It could have been worse. In Illinois recently, Masten said, 25,000 and 15,000 people applied at two Wal-Mart stores in the Chicago area, and neither of those is a large Supercenter.

“Sometimes, it’s easier to get into [someplace exclusive] than a job at Wal-Mart, statistically speaking,” she said.

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