Coronavirus-Panicked Shoppers Push Walmart to Hire 150,000 Workers

Walmart is staffing up as it faces increasing pressure to provide essential goods to its coronavirus-panicked shoppers.

In a statement shared Thursday, the big-box giant announced plans to hire 150,000 new associates for its stores as well as distribution and fulfillment centers through the end of May amid the unprecedented health crisis. COVID-19 has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed at least 195 in the United States.

Those jobs will be temporary at first, said the company, but many will become permanent roles over time.

“We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we’re currently seeing strong demand in our stores,” said President and CEO Doug McMillon. “We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn some extra money and perform a vital service to their community.”

What’s more, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said it would provide a $300 cash bonus for full-time hourly employees and $150 for part-time workers in stores as well as its supply chain and offices — adding up to more than $365 million in bonuses. Each associate employed as of March 1 qualifies for the bonus, which will be paid out on April 2.

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It will also move up a month earlier than scheduled the next quarterly bonus for store, club and supply chain associates. The payout, to be distributed in late April, will add up to $180 million.

“Walmart associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving our customers during these unprecedented times,” McMillon added. “We want to reward our associates for their hard work and recognize them for the work that is in front of us.”

The announcement came a day after Walmart said it would trim store hours for the second time in less than a week to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The mega retailer has also taken measures, including a coronavirus-related emergency-leave policy, to prevent sick associates from coming into work. It has also pledged $25 million to organizations on the “front lines,” such as food banks.

Early this week, rival retail giant Amazon also announced that it would hire an additional 100,000 workers in the U.S. to address a spike in online shopping.

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