In what I think we should take as a sign of growing strength in the labor market, Wal-Mart announced today that starting on Memorial Day they’ll hire any military veteran discharged within the past 12 months as long as the veteran in question wasn’t dishonorably discharged.
Obviously the business strategy cocktail here includes some pure public relations as well as some genuine sentimentality here. Wal-Mart’s CEO Bill Scott served for years in the Navy, so this is something he cares about. But more broadly, I think the point is simply that Wal-Mart is anticipating that demand conditions will warrant them adding a fair amount of staff over the next few years and that honorable service in the military is a good screening device.
I’d say the basic point is that for all the recent hype about robots, the “jobless recovery” is still a mythical beast. As demand conditions improve, Wal-Mart wants to hire more people. If demand conditions improve more, those people will want to leave Wal-Mart to work elsewhere and Wal-Mart will either need to pay them more or invest in improving its productivity.