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Stampede for Wal-Mart jobs in Oakland

Actual caption: Wal-Mart workers at the new Oakland store gather before executive Henry Jordan (right) for their daily Wal-Mart cheer and wiggle. Chronicle photo by Eric Lus

Yes, it’s the Bush economy chugging along. How many of these workers will have no health insurance, will work off the clock and won’t be able to afford the gas to drive themselves to work? No matter, 11,000 people applied for 400 openings at Wal-Mart’s new Oakland store. (SFGate):

For all the criticism that Wal-Mart receives for its low wages and minimal health benefits, the retail giant says more than 11,000 people in the Bay Area are clamoring to get a job at its new Oakland store.

…The Bay Area also has lost hundreds of jobs to outsourcing and offshoring, compounded by all the jobs that never came back after the local economy collapsed.

“It’s not about Wal-Mart — it’s about the rest of the labor market,” Levy said. “If the rest of the labor market was strong, you wouldn’t have 11,000 people applying for 400 jobs.”

During the dot-com boom, Levy said, businesses like Starbucks bumped up wages to recruit employees in the middle of a hot job market. But now the situation has reversed, and more people are willing to take whatever they can get.

“It’s simply a comment on how many people are willing to apply for that kind of job now,” Levy said of the surge of applications at Wal-Mart.

For its part, Wal-Mart — currently embroiled in a fight to break up a class-action discrimination suit by female employees — has been pleased with the turnout of candidates who are interested in working for the company. Right now, it is still looking to fill positions for evening sales associates, overnight sales associates, cashiers and unloaders at its Oakland store. The company offers an average hourly wage in the Bay Area of $10.82.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding