Did Walmart Cut Hundreds of Workers? No

The business press is obsessed with Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT). It is America’s largest company, both based on employee count, which totals 1.7 million in the United States, and on revenue. The Walton family, who own much of Walmart, is among the richest in the world. And Walmart is often criticized for paying its workers hourly wages so low that many live at the poverty line.

The obsession often turns to making Walmart a company that it is not. A recent Wall Street Journal headline read: “Walmart Lays Off Hundreds of Corporate Workers.” In the second paragraph of the story, the figure is put at 200. Stories based on this ran in The New York Times, Bloomberg, CNBC and CNN Business, among others.

The reason given for the layoffs is that Walmart cut its earnings guidance. It also announced that revenue grew 2.4% to $141.6 billion in the most recent quarter. Net income was $2.1 billion. Will Walmart have sales problems with a recession? Yes. Will it undermine the retailer’s future? No.

Consider how tiny that 200 figure is compared to 1.7 million workers. Consider how little it saves Walmart in expenses. Consider how far it is from an actual reorganization.

Walmart’s move does not deserve large headlines. It is barely a footnote in the scheme of things. Better to look at companies that have laid off thousands or more, against revenue bases that are much smaller.

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