OK, I may be a day late (and I’m definitely a dollar short, these days), but I read three articles on jobs, yesterday morning — on companies we all know — and they were a whole lot different when I read between the lines.
First, Yahoo reported in “Dollar Stores hammered by Trump proposal to abandon food stamps” how shares of Dollar Tree and Dollar General, which it owns, dropped Monday because of President Trump’s proposed budget.
The share drop may be true and abandoning SOME food stamps may also be true, but there’s a lot more to the story.
(Only picky eaters like me would starve if I was part of the program.)
Trump wants to reduce food-stamp benefits and Yahoo calls it, “Potentially one of the biggest shake-ups in the history of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP,” which is what we used to (or still) call food stamps.
But it shouldn’t be as bad for the poor as you may think at first. The plan is to cut cash payments and substitute the money for packages of actual food.
How many of you ever wondered what the person ahead of you in the checkout line was doing buying “that” with food stamps? The president’s plan should put that question to rest.
Nearly 42.2 million people reportedly got food stamps during the 2017 fiscal year. Those receiving more than $90 a month would get a food-aid package including shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, cereal and meat.
Of course, many of Dollar Tree and Dollar General’s customers are the least wealthy and getting food means they won’t have to (or be able to go out and) buy what they want anymore. With the government’s buying scale, they may even get more.
One analyst Yahoo quoted said those stores “have signaled that food stamps account for roughly five percent of sales,” but the whole grocery industry could be affected.
The plan to overhaul SNAP would save a projected $214 billion over a decade.
Next is a store — no, make that an industry — that has been in trouble for years: book stores. CNBC’s headline is “Barnes & Noble cuts staff after dismal holiday season” and none of us should be surprised, considering competition from Amazon.
Unless you need a book right away — right, students? – you can probably go online and get it (along with everything else Amazon sells) cheaper, and delivered right to your door.
That’s great, but not for booksellers. Employees are often experts but now the chain is reportedly laying off lead cashiers, digital leads and other experienced workers, company-wide. In fact, many of them showed up for work Monday and were told they no longer had a job.
Way to go, Barnes & Noble! That’ll do well for the psyche of your remaining employees, who know they don’t have many similar jobs available.
CNBC reported, “The number of affected workers couldn’t immediately be determined” but we know there are way fewer stores than there were years ago, too many people living far from one, and Borders? Forget it. Dead since the end of 2010. That stinks on every level.
Whose parents didn’t take them to the bookstore as a kid, just to browse or even choose something you’d want? That’s practically just a memory.
The business channel called consumer spending “generally strong this holiday season” but Barnes & Noble holiday sales fell more than 6 percent from the year before.
Amazon isn’t only competition online. It — with its low-price reputation — is also opening up more of its own bricks-and-mortar bookstores.
Then there’s the self-proclaimed low-price leader. Walmart is not just stealing “a larger share of the books market.” It’s “planning to make a massive push in selling e-books and e-readers on Walmart.com later this year.”
If only literacy and education were the goals of these big American companies. Shareholders, rejoice!
And speaking of Amazon, CNN’s headline was “Amazon lays off hundreds of employees” but that doesn’t make sense at all considering its seventh paragraph:
“It appears the company isn’t looking to reduce its overall headcount. It currently has 3,900 open corporate job listings in Seattle and 12,000 open positions worldwide, which point to the company’s ‘aggressive’ hiring plans.”
So what’s really going on?
According to CNN’s source, “The majority of the layoffs are affecting the company’s Seattle headquarters, but some global teams may be affected as well.”
Online retail operations are expected to be hit the hardest and employees are already being notified.
But I thought Amazon was doing very well, especially when it came to the holiday season and stealing so much of the book business from Barnes & Noble.
It absolutely is.
Apparently, Amazon has “aggressive” hiring plans even after adding 130,000 jobs in the past year (not including the new ones from Whole Foods). It has 3,900 open corporate job listings in Seattle and 12,000 open positions worldwide. That 12,000 figure doesn’t come close to including workers at the company’s second headquarters — which Philadelphia made the top 20 in landing.
Amazon said, according to CNN, “HQ2 will cost a minimum of $5 billion to construct and operate, and will create as many as 50,000 jobs.” That’s way more than 12,000.
How well is Amazon doing? It reported nearly $2 billion in profit in its latest quarter from the holiday shopping season. That’s not only the largest in its history but the first time it topped $1 billion in a quarter!
But what about those employee layoffs in the headline and how readers were supposed to feel? Amazon said in a statement sent to CNN:
“As part of our annual planning process, we are making headcount adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others. … For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring.”
So now, with Whole Foods in its arsenal, we’ll see what Amazon will be able to perform next. Maybe get the government contract on those food-aid packages that are replacing SNAP/food stamps. I’d count out producing pink slips!
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