Walmart’s first two stores in D.C. are open for business on H Street and Georgia Avenue. Twenty-three thousand people applied for 800 job openings at the two new stores—an acceptance rate of less than 3.5 percent. In comparison, Ivy League
schools such as Princeton (8.5 percent), Yale (6.8 percent), and Harvard (5.9 percent) have acceptance rates about twice as high.
The number of applications to work at Walmart was not unique to D.C. Last year 5 million Americans applied for 500,000 Walmart jobs, an acceptance rate of 10 percent, Ivy League status.
With all the media coverage about Walmart’s supposedly poor treatment of workers, why do so many people want Walmart jobs?
Unions, and the worker centers they sponsor, cannot stand that workers covet positions at Walmart. The unions desperately need more members as only seven percent of private sector workers are in a union. This drop in membership has left many union pension funds critically underfunded. New member dues are needed to subsidize extravagant benefits for retirees.
This summer, the worker center OUR Walmart fought for the passage of The Large Retailer Accountability Act in D.C. This would have applied an hourly “living wage” of $12.50 to stores that met certain conditions (over 75,000 square feet, a parent company with over $1 billion in annual revenues). Only the new Walmarts would have been affected for the first four years. This 50 percent premium over the District’s current minimum wage threatened the opening of Walmart’s six new stores.
The Large Retailer Accountability Act included an exemption for union shops such as Giant and Safeway. It was approved by the D.C. City Council in July.
Mayor Gray vetoed the Act, citing the economic benefits Walmart would provide to the District through more jobs and lower prices for consumers.
The 23,000 applicants for positions at the two D.C. Walmarts were not required to submit their resumes. They may be young people looking to get their first professional experience, retired individuals wishing to keep busy, parents looking for part-time work, or other motivated individuals looking for career opportunities. Walmart’s incoming CEO, Doug McMillon, got his start at the company unloading trucks.
Elitist animosity towards Walmart, not care for the neediest Americans, is the real motivation behind the Black Friday strikes and other minimum wage protests. But the number of job applicants for Walmart positions shows we need more Walmart stores, not fewer.