In March of 2002, Sprawl-Busters passed along the news that Kmart was shutting down 283 of its stores (including 12 of its supercenters), and throwing 22,000 people out of work. By the fall of 2002, the reports worsened, suggesting that right after the New Year, Kmart would announce further store closings as part of its battle to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sure enough, the Krash came this week, as Kmart announced it was turning off the lights at another 326 stores across 44 states and Puerto Rico. That brings the former Kmart store number to 609 dead locations. As many as 37,000 blue light employees could lose their jobs. The company claims by shedding this weight, it will emerge from bankruptcy by the beginning of May, but that will be little consolation to the 59,000 Kmart employees who got pink-slipped. “We’re all upset,” one Kmart worker in Detroit told the Associated Press. “I helped build this store up.” Now she gets to help tear the empire down.
The Kmart implosion means that 37,000 fewer people will be working for the Big K. If you assume that the typical Wal-Mart supercenter employs 550 workers, this one round of cuts at Kmart means that the next 67 Wal-Mart supercenters built in this country will only dig out the unemployment hole that Kmart’s demise just created. That means one-third of the Wal-Mart supercenters planned for 2003 will merely leave our economy running in place. When Time magazine says in its January 13th. issue that Wal-Mart will create 800,000 “new” jobs over the next five years, you have to net out the jobs lost across the retail sector to get the real impact of Wal-Mart’s “new” activity. In fact, there is very little added value to our economy from Wal-Mart growth, since it is built on top of the ruins of 609 Kmart stores, among many other in the pile. Search this database by “Kmart” for more stories on this subject.