Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) hosted a two-day “U.S. Manufacturing Summit” in Orlando last week. The world’s largest retailer is leading an effort to bring government officials, retailers and suppliers together to figure out how they can bring more manufacturing jobs back to the United States, report Anne DiInnocenzio and Mike Schneider of The Associated Press.
Wal-Mart: the destroyer plans to be a creator
There were about 1,500 officials present, including representatives from three dozen states, eight governors, about 500 manufacturers, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) veteran Jeffrey Immelt. The summit was aimed at driving more manufacturing in the U.S. and help employment. The event held on Thursday and Friday last week fetched extensive media attention. But if you look closely, it would hardly do anything for the U.S. economy. All that it will do is boost the image of Wal-Mart, which has been repeatedly criticized and attacked by labor groups for destroying U.S. manufacturing jobs.
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About seven months ago, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) announced that it will buy an additional $50 billion worth of “Made in the USA” goods over the next decade. It added that, as a result, its suppliers will infuse over $70 million to ramp up manufacturing, creating over 1,000 new domestic jobs. Creating 1,000 jobs—when 4.2 million Americans are in “long-term unemployment” category and 11.5 million are unemployed.
In the public eye, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is improving its image. But few people know that thousands of jobs are at risk in a Wal-Mart imposed Washington D.C. standoff. The world’s largest retailer has threatened to stop its expansion in D.C. area if the living wage bill is passed.
Wal-Mart’s attempt unlikely to boost U.S. manufacturing
Even if Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) gains the support of key suppliers and retailers, experts believe that it is unlikely to boost the U.S. manufacturing sector. Over the past two decades, Wal-Mart has led the migration of jobs to China, Mexico and other countries in search of cheap labor.
It’s not the first such campaign by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The discounter ran a similar program in 1990s. But that failed miserably because the company couldn’t find any other source of low-priced goods its low income shoppers wanted to buy. This time, however, the campaign comes when unemployment rate stands at 7.4%, well above the 5%-5.5-% that indicates a healthy economy. So, it is likely to resonate well with the public.