The pressure of the coronavirus pandemic is causing an unemployment crisis: 281,000 jobless claims were filed the week of March 9, a 33% increase over the previous week, according to Department of Labor statistics. Some retailers are being forced to lay off their own workers, but grocery chains such as Kroger, Walmart and Save A Lot are thriving as people continue stocking up on necessities — and these companies are paying it forward by hiring thousands of workers to keep up with demand.
Kroger already has hired 2,000 people in the past week due to ramped-up operations and it still has more than 10,000 openings across its plants, warehouses and stores, CEO Rodney McMullen told CNBC. The retailer’s stores are operating under reduced hours, but it still needs plenty of workers to restock shelves and ensure stores are properly cleaned, which has created openings for new hires from outside of retail as well.
“We have relationships with several different other industries where they’re directing their people to us,” said McMullen in an interview with CNBC. “We have a ton of openings.”
Walmart’s plans are even larger: the company will bring on 150,000 new associates to work in its stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers, according to an announcement made by CEO Doug McMillon on LinkedIn. The retail giant will also offer workers who have been with the company since March 1 a special bonus, and will deliver its next scheduled quarterly bonuses a month earlier.
In comparison, Save A Lot’s plans are modest at about 1,000 new hires at its retail and distribution locations. However, the grocer specifically called for applications from recently laid off workers and promised an accelerated hiring process, which could provide relief for the former employees of struggling retailers.
“It takes many hands to feed America, and we need more hands,” said Kenneth McGrath, President and CEO of Save A Lot in a statement. “We know that there are many talented, displaced workers in our communities right now, and we want to bring as many as 1,000 new employees aboard quickly to help with this important work to serve our communities.”