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Kroger joins list of companies adding jobs

Kroger Co. on Monday said it planned to add 10,000 new permanent jobs in 2017, almost exclusively at store level.

The announcement, which came just three days after President Trump was sworn in, followed a similar announcement last week from Wal-Mart Stores, which also said it would add 10,000 U.S. jobs in 2017, and other announcements from a range of companies, from Amazon to General Motors. Amazon earlier this month said it planned to add 100,000 full-time jobs in the next 18 months, including many in its U.S. fulfillment centers and others in technology services operations.

Trump made the addition of U.S. jobs a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, and has been encouraging U.S. companies to hire domestically and to rethink the overseas production of goods.

Keith Dailey, a spokesman for Cincinnati-based Kroger, told SN the retailer announces each year the number of jobs it added in the previous year. In this case, Kroger said it added 12,000 new jobs in 2016, including 9,000 veterans of the armed services. The company said it has added 86,000 jobs in the last eight years (see sidebar). It now employs 443,000 workers.

“Kroger has a strong track record of creating U.S. jobs, and we expect that to continue,” said Dailey. “We also want to spread the word that we have 10,000 open jobs today because we want job seekers to know that Kroger is hiring.”

The jobs Kroger is filling in 2017 range from part-time clerks and cashiers to department heads and store managers, he said. Kroger’s yearly job tally excludes jobs added through acquisition and temporary jobs created by capital investment such as construction, the company said.

Dailey said he did not have a breakdown of how many of the new positions planned in 2017 would be part-time vs. full-time, nor did he have an average hourly wage for the new positions.

“Many will be part-time positions that can lead to full time roles,” he said. “We are very proud of the fact that our store managers successfully manage multi-million-dollar businesses, and more than two-thirds of them started their Kroger careers as part-time clerks.”

Illustration: SN/Anna Kang

Jose Tamez, managing partner at executive search firm Austin-Michael, said the Trump administration could be favorable for the creation of new jobs, given its pledges to cut taxes and ease regulations.

“As with most presidential election cycles, many businesses put initiatives on hold until it’s determined what administration will take office, and as an extension, what policies will likely be enacted,” he said.

Another factor at work in the recent hiring announcements at Walmart and Kroger is the fact that retail jobs are evolving amid changes in the environment, such as new online channels for grocery buying. For example, a portion of the 10,000 new jobs Walmart is adding will be to fulfill ecommerce and click-and-collect services, according to reports.

“Grocery retail’s org charts and infrastructures are antiquated,” said Tamez. “Kroger is undergoing a modernization of all those things.”

Tamez agreed that Kroger’s announcing of its hiring plans could be an effective way to attract talent.

“The more descriptive they can be in terms of new skills sets in demand, along with creating excitement by tying it to new waves of growth, creates a deeper impact on the talent that they are competing for,” he said.

The hiring announcements at both Kroger and Walmart also follow recent announcements at both companies of staff reductions. Kroger last year said it was offering buyouts to 2,000 corporate staff in a streamlining of its business, while Walmart last summer said it planned to trim 7,000 accounting and invoicing positions at its U.S. stores, shifting some of those jobs to other store functions.

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