- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2016

Wal-Mart will be eliminating about 7,000 in-store desk jobs in “the next several months,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The back-office invoicing and accounting positions are a rarity in the retail industry, the Journal explained, and both automation and stiff competition from online rivals such as Amazon are forcing the hand of even America’s biggest retailer.

“The positions Wal-Mart is eliminating manage an individual store’s daily cash flow or processes claims from manufacturers delivering goods directly to stores, among other tasks,” explained the Journal. “Starting early next year, much of that work will be handled by a central office or new money-counting ‘cash recycler’ machines in stores. Wal-Mart tested the change in about 500 stores earlier this year.”

But this doesn’t mean that 7,000 employees are about to get the pink slip. 

“The company believes most displaced employees will find customer-facing roles, the Journal quoted Deisha Barnett, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, as saying. “We’ve seen many make smooth transitions during the pilot.”

Self-imposed higher labor costs and the pricey buyout of an Amazon competitor may also be putting pressure on Wal-Mart to increase automation of its paperwork-processing jobs.

“Last year the retailer lifted its store employee starting wage to $9, or about $18,700 a year, for a full-time employee,” the Journal reported. “Starting earlier this year new hires can move to $10 an hour after completing a six month training program. In August Wal-Mart said it planned to purchase discount online retailer Jet.com Inc. for $3.3 billion.”

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