The number of jobs is a drop in the bucket for the nation’s largest private employer — Walmart has 1.4 million U.S. employees — but comes as many companies fear being lashed by Trump. The President-elect takes office on Friday and has used Twitter to take to task U.S. companies that manufacture products abroad destined for the American market, or that have outsourced jobs. (His own line of clothing sold at U.S. stores was made in Asia, as is his daughter Ivanka’s fashions.)
“With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs,” said Dan Bartlett, Wal-Mart Stores’ executive vice president of corporate affairs.
Amazon.com, whose CEO Jeff Bezos was on several occasions in 2016 the object of Trump’s ire, made a similar move last week, announcing 100,000 new jobs that were connected to already announced plans. At Walmart, the jobs are incoming from already planned store openings, expansions and e-commerce support. Walmart said the initiatives will add another 24,000 construction jobs.
The news also comes as Walmart has announced thousands of job eliminations at headquarters and in store management to focus more resources on its in-store floor workers, to improve customer service and beef up its e-commerce. Last year, the company cut 10,000 store jobs after closing its 154 Walmart Express stores, and some 7,000 back-office positions were also cut. It is eliminating another 1,000 positions this month. The company told the Wall Street Journal that overall headcount is rising.
Walmart, which imports the vast majority of the merchandise it sells to U.S. consumers and stands to lose a lot if Trump makes good on threats to impose new tariffs on imports, has also been touting for years its efforts to sell more American-made wares. To that end, Walmart announced a round of grants to six universities working on textile innovations in hopes of bringing back some U.S. manufacturing in that industry, similar to grants it has made in the past.
In 2013, Walmart pledged to buy $250 billion more in American-made, grown, assembled and sourced products over 10 years. Annual sales for Walmart U.S. are about $300 billion. It has also given worker $2.7 billion in raises in the last two years and ramped up its training.
The company this week announced its central role in a new retail industry-wide continuing education initiative led by the National Retail Federation called “Rise Up,” which aims to provide store workers with chain-agnostic credentials and education that will sharpen basic skills and make them more employable at more retailers.
After critical tweets by Trump in recent months, companies like Carrier and Ford have reversed plans to move some manufacturing to other countries.