As a means to counter what has been an outcry over the amount of money Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) makes, the world's largest retailer will promote 25,000 people this quarter. Walmart claims this will bring total promotions to 160,000 in 2013.
Walmart has been among those attacked for wages that keep people below the poverty line, or barely above it. Fast-food chain operators McDonald's Corp. (MCD) and Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM) are included as well. Many labor leaders have called for hourly wages to move to $15, well above the $8 to $9 many workers are paid. The companies have countered with the argument that such a huge increase in their costs would batter margins.
Walmart said of its fourth-quarter promotions:
Walmart announced today that it is kicking off its holiday season with a special focus on more career opportunities for associates. The company expects to promote more than 160,000 associates to jobs with higher pay and more responsibility this year, including 25,000 promotions during its fourth quarter
Once you've got the job, the promotional opportunities are unparalleled:
There are, on average, more than 400 promotions a day at Walmart. Walmart U.S. promotes more than 160,000 associates every year. 40 percent of those promotions last year went to people in their first year with the company.
After that, the sky's the limit:
75 percent of Walmart’s store management teams started as hourly associates. More than 30,000 assistant managers earn an average of more than $40,000 a year. More than 4,000 store managers earn an average of $170,000 a year.
The information is not likely to quiet critics, who will continue to maintain that the number of people at higher pay levels is relatively limited. However, Walmart can argue that 160,000 is a fairly large portion of its American workforce.
The other group that has a stake in the Walmart worker cost structure is investors, who have become increasingly worried about slow growth in the United States. Over the past year, Walmart's stock price is flat, while the S&P 500 is higher by 25%. Management's leverage with labor includes the fact that Walmart's U.S. sales were flat in the 13 weeks that ended July 26. The company does not expect those numbers to be any better for the balance of its fiscal year.