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Walmart to hire 100K veterans, buy American

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 12:33 AM

NEW YORK -- Why wait on Washington to fix the economy when there's Walmart?

Walmart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer and the biggest private employer in the U.S. with 1.4 million workers here, said Tuesday that it is rolling out a three-part plan to help jumpstart the sluggish U.S. economy.

The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions sooner.

The move comes as Walmart attempts to bolster its reputation, which has been hit in the past year by an alleged bribery scandal in Mexico and a deadly fire at a Bangladesh factory that supplies clothes to the company. Walmart, which often is criticized for its low-paying jobs and buying habits in the U.S., said it's plan aims to highlight career opportunities in the retail industry, which supports one in four jobs in the country. The company's plan could have an impact on the U.S. economy: With $444 billion in annual revenue, if Walmart were a country, it would rank among the largest economies in the world.

At the center of Walmart's plan is a pledge to hire veterans, many of who have come home from Afghanistan and Iraq are had a particularly hard time finding jobs. The unemployment rate for veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan stood at 10.8 percent in December, compared with the overall unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

Walmart said it plans to hire every veteran who wants a job and has been honorably discharged in the first 12 months of active duty. The program, which will start on Memorial Day, will include jobs mostly in Walmart's stores or in its Sam's Club locations. Some will be at its headquarters, based in Bentonville, Ark. or the company's distribution centers.

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