Friday's jobs number has been heralded by Wall Street talking heads as the perfect "goldilocks" number for the market, since the nearly 1MM new jobs added last month is seen as a solid number, indicating that the economy will keep chugging along without "overheating" and forcing the Fed to hike even sooner than expected.
But once again, there were weaknesses under the hood. A plurality of the new jobs were linked to the leisure and hospitality industry, while the retail establishments that have been desperately searching for workers saw little progress. Which brings us to this story published in Friday's WSJ: In a sign that the labor market in the US remains badly distorted by the unprecedented wave of fiscal and monetary stimulus unleashed to combat the pandemic (after all, there are now more job openings than unemployed workers), Wal-Mart has resorted to offering weekly bonuses to some warehouse workers to forego their planned August vacations as the company scrambles to try and smooth out lingering supply chain issues ahead of the December holiday shopping season.
The bonuses vary in size by location: some workers are making as much as $500/week. They're being offered at the majority of Wal-Mart's 190 US warehouses.
Warehouses typically prepare for the holiday shopping season months ahead of time, which means the busy season has, in some ways, already arrived.
Wal-Mart isn't alone in offering bonuses to warehouse workers. Amazon, with its reputation for ruthless, even brutal efficiency (forcing some warehouse workers to urinate in bottles), has been forced to raise pay and offer $1,000 hiring bonuses. Amazon and Wal-Mart have doled out hazard pay and other bonuses to their warehouse workers (though many have argued it's not enough money). Wage hikes and bonuses have also become commonplace in the food-service industry, including for fast-food workers.
The labor shortages are compounded by lingering supply chain shortages. Adult bicycles and consumer electronics were mentioned as examples of popular items that are often out of stock.
"It’s better in many cases, but there are some pockets where we continue to chase demand," he said, citing adult bicycles and consumer electronics. "We’re monitoring things like delays at the ports and other factors in the supply chain, and we’ll watch all those things closely to continue to react."
Just ask anybody who has yet to get their hands on a PS5.