Economy First Look

Kroger looks to hire 10,000 US workers this year

The announcement comes despite a difficult 2016 in which the retailer struggled with declining food prices.

Kroger says it will add 10,000 permanent jobs in the US.
David J. Phillip/AP/File
|
Caption

The nation's largest grocery store chain announced Monday that it will fill 10,000 positions this year, publicizing its routine hiring plans as a number of other companies have since President Trump won the election.

The Kroger Co., a Cincinnati-based firm that operates stores under a variety of brands across 35 states and the District of Columbia, said it has created more than 86,000 new permanent jobs over the past eight years and that its workforce grew by more than 12,000 last year. The announcement comes as Mr. Trump has put pressure on private businesses to preserve and prioritize American jobs, though many question whether the head-of-state can influence individual companies efficiently.

"Kroger's growth trajectory continues to create opportunities for our people to advance their careers – and to do that in a fun, team environment with great benefits," Tim Massa, Kroger's group vice president of human resources and labor relations, said in a statement.

The 10,000 positions the chain aims to fill this year constitute about 2 percent of its 443,000-associate total workforce.

Kroger's announcement came the same day that Amazon said it would add more than 1,000 permanent jobs to a distribution center in Colorado, and Wal-Mart said earlier this month that it would add 10,000 jobs across the United States as part of a previously announced plan. Similarly, auto parts retailer AutoZone said last week that it would hire at least 12,000 new employees over the next few months, counting full-time and part-time workers – also part of its normal hiring plans.

These announcements follow high-profile spats between Trump and a number of US companies, especially those in the manufacturing sector. He met Monday with representatives from about a dozen manufacturers at the White House and pledged to reduce regulatory red tape and corporate taxes in an effort to spur economic growth.

These across-the-board policy changes, if implemented in an evenhanded manner, could represent a distinct departure from Trump's one-off deal with Carrier Corp. in Indianapolis, which critics say set a bad precedent. Trump has taken credit for saving American jobs, but the math is often slippery, as The Christian Science Monitor's Laurent Belsie wrote last month.

Even so, Kroger's announcement could be seen as a positive economic indicator. A slump in food prices hurt Kroger's bottom line last year, as Cincinnati.com reported. But the chain has been expanding into new markets and offering "ClickList" – an online ordering and in-store pickup service – to remain competitive.

"There's a saying in our business that retail is detail, and getting a whole bunch of little things right adds up to a much bigger success than a few big ideas that don’t get executed well," Jim Hertel, senior vice president of food retail and production consultancy Willard Bishop, told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, after Kroger became the largest competitor in the Milwaukee market. "What I think is particularly notable about Kroger is the excellence with which they execute across such a large enterprise and the clarity of thought with which they approach the fundamentals of their business."

This report includes material from Reuters.