NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores on Tuesday pledged to hire all honorably discharged U.S. veterans who want jobs and buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products in the coming decade.
The initiative to offer jobs to veterans within a year of leaving active duty may result in about 100,000 hires in the next five years, the company said in a statement. About two-thirds of Wal-Mart's products are made, sourced or grown in the United States, the statement said.
The world's largest retailer said the hiring and sourcing pledges are meant to create jobs in the United States.
Veterans are "a good pool of labor that fits well into how Wal-Mart runs its business, with potential associates that are accustomed to a chain of command, standard operating procedures, disciplined scheduling," Colin McGranahan, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in an email. "It also generates positive PR for Wal-Mart at a time when the company could certainly use some."
Federal officials are looking into allegations that Wal-Mart bribed officials to speed its expansion in Mexico. The company also has been criticized following reports that its suppliers were making garments at a Bangladesh factory where more than 100 people died in a fire in November. Earlier that month, the company came under fire for opening stores on Thanksgiving night, requiring employees to work on the holiday.
Aside from the positive publicity, the initiative could generate as much as $960 million in tax breaks for the retailer.
Under a U.S. tax provision that was extended through 2013, employers can get tax credits of as much as $9,600 for hiring veterans, depending on their disability status, hours of work and other criteria. The one-year extension was part of the tax law that President Barack Obama signed Jan. 2 and is estimated to cost the government $125 million in the next decade.
Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. stores, said Tuesday in remarks prepared for the National Retail Federation's annual convention that Wal-Mart also would "bring more transparency to our scheduling system so part-time workers can choose more hours for themselves." Employees and union-backed activists have complained in the past that Wal-Mart's system leaves employees with erratic schedules and fewer hours than they want.