Walmart Plans Corporate Layoffs

Walmart Thursday confirmed media reports that it is cutting the size of its corporate workforce, even as it bolsters the ranks of frontline “essential workers,” as the coronavirus pandemic persuades more consumers to cook at home.

The nation’s largest retailer has laid off hundreds of workers in departments including store planning, logistics, merchandising and real estate, people familiar with the matter told 

The Bloomberg report did not give specific numbers of cuts, and a Walmart spokeswoman said only that the changes were part of Walmart’s bid to become “an omnichannel organization,” able to serve the customer as well online as in person; a letter from John Furner, Walmart U.S.A. president and chief executive said the company was “streamlining some roles so we can be more effective and efficient.”

The coronavirus pandemic and attendant stay-at-home orders have treated grocers more kindly than other retailers, and in late April Walmart said it had hired 200,000 associates to work in stores, Sam’s Club locations and distribution and fulfillment centers since March 19.

By far the nation’s largest private-sector employer, with 1.5 million U.S. workers, Walmart also said it has agreed to pay out $1.1 billion in cash bonuses to workers since the spring when the coronavirus began its initial spread through the country.

But, despite a long-running 

Walmart already has spent part of this year reorganizing the back shop, with 

Grocers were among the few retailers hiring this year as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses across the country. Research from Allianz SE forecast that U.S. retailers that sell food will see their best year since 2001, with sales up 7%, according to 

As of July 20, Walmart had launched 357 Covid-19 testing sites and had tested more than 155,000 people across the country, according to the company’s website.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian sent a memo to employees Thursday to thank the 17,000 Delta workers who agreed to take voluntary departure packages, a significant number of which are departing this week.

“I know these were difficult, personal decisions for everyone and their families. Each person who has opted to exit voluntarily moves us closer to our goal of minimizing furloughs and positioning Delta to weather the choppy recovery in the months and years ahead,” Bastian wrote in the memo, which was obtained by FOX Business.

The CARES Act set 

American Airlines executives said in a memo to employees earlier this month that 24,285 workers have been notified they could potentially be furloughed when the CARES Act deadline hits at the end of September.

That’s despite the fact that “41,000 team members have opted for early retirement, a reduced work schedule or a partially paid leave,” according to American Airlines' second-quarter earnings report.

The government bailout of airlines was supposed to stop any furloughs from happening, as most lawmakers and industry leaders thought travel demand would pick back up by the time funding ran out in the fall. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is still raging in large parts of the country with no signs of slowing down.

Now, many lawmakers and airlines are calling for an extension of the funds that were given to airlines. 

More than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, further evidence of the devastation the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed on the U.S. economy.

The continuing wave of job cuts is occurring against the backdrop of a spike in virus cases that has led many states to halt plans to reopen businesses and has caused millions of consumers to delay any return to traveling, shopping, and other normal economic activity. Those trends have forced many businesses to cut jobs or at least delay hiring.

The Labor Department’s report Thursday marked the 19th straight week that more than 1 million people have applied for unemployment benefits. Before the coronavirus hit hard in March, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never exceeded 700,000 in any one week, even during the Great Recession.

The number of new applicants was up by 12,000 from the week before, the second straight increase. New claims had dropped for 15 straight weeks, from mid-April through early July, as states began to reopen their economies, a move that is now stalling.

All told, 17 million people are collecting traditional jobless benefits, a sign that unemployment checks are keeping many American families afloat financially at a time of big job losses and agonizing economic uncertainty.

The pain could soon intensify: An supplemental $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits is expiring, and Congress is squabbling about extending the aid, which would probably be done at a reduced level.

A resurgence of cases in the South and the West has forced many bars, restaurants, beauty salons and other businesses to close again or reduce occupancy. Between June 21 and July 19, for example, the percentage of Texas bars that were closed shot up from 25% to 73%; likewise, 75% of California beauty shops were shuttered July 19, up from 40% just a week earlier; according to the data firm Womply.

And many states have imposed restrictions on visitors from states that have reported high levels of virus cases, thereby hurting hotels, airlines, and other industries that depend on travel.

Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High-Frequency Economics, said the jobs numbers were disheartening.

“A resurgence in virus cases has resulted in a pause or rollback of reopenings across states and the pace of layoffs is likely to pick up just as expanded unemployment benefits are expiring,” Farooqi said. “The risk of temporary job losses becoming permanent is high from repeated closures of businesses. That could result in an even slower pace of recovery.″

The virus and the lockdowns meant to contain it has hammered the American economy: Employers slashed a record 20.8 million jobs in April, restoring about 7.5 million of them in May and June as many states began to reopen their economies.

Last week, an additional 830,000 million people applied for jobless aid under a new program that extends eligibility for the first time to self-employed and gig workers. That figure isn’t adjusted for seasonal trends, so it’s reported separately.

Altogether, the Labor Department said that 30.2 million people are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, though the figure may be inflated by double-counting by states.

Since she was laid off by a tech industry nonprofit May 15, Miranda Meyerson, 38, has been trying to find another job and to sign up for unemployment benefits. ”It’s just incredibly frustrating and demoralizing,” she said. Potential employers seem to be delaying hiring decisions. “Nobody gets back to you,’’ she said. “You feel like there’s only so long you can submit (applications) into a void.’’

Meyerson and her partner moved from New York to Oakland, California, in March, just as the virus began to spread rapidly across the United States. The move to a new state has complicated her so far futile efforts to collect benefits from a swamped California unemployment benefits system. ”They’re obviously totally overwhelmed,” she said. “You can’t even get on the phone to talk to anybody.”

Allegra Troiano, 64, was stunned when the Milwaukee English language learning center she ran was closed in May. “They got through SARS. They got through the Ebola scare,” she said. “Nobody ever thought it would get to the point where we were shutting down.’’

The extra $600 in unemployment pay has been a lifeline as she contends with a $2,200 mortgage and $600 in monthly health insurance expenses. “It means surviving,” she said.

Laid off from his job as a bank security guard in March, James Adams, 53, of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, said that “losing that $600 a week would be devastating. I have been having a hard time sleeping.”

A Trump voter, Adams has a message for Republican senators reluctant to spend more money on unemployment aid: “I know they want to be fiscal hawks, but swallow the bitter pill and help out the people who need this help.”