Here’s a basic lesson in sprawl-math: Jobs created at companies like Wal-Mart result in jobs subtracted at other venues. Case in point: one of the dominant retailers in the Northeast, the Caldor’s company, announced yesterday that it would close its doors after 48 years in business. Founded in 1951 by Cal and Dorothy Bennett (the company name combines their first names) in 1951 in Port Chester, NY, the company eventually was owned by the May Department stores and other investors. The company had $2.49 billion in sales annually, and employed 22,000 people. Most of the jobs lost will start to be minused out of the workforce this spring, after the going out of business sales wind down. According to the Reuters newstory about the folding of Caldors, “Wal-Mart and other rivals had choked off Caldor’s ability to open stores outside its traditional Northeast territory.” Wall St. analysts say that Caldors just ran out of money and couldn’t buy new inventory, after 3 years of living in Chapter 11 in 1995. Based in Norwalk, CT. Caldor’s enormous job loss will never appear in any Wal-Mart annual report, and local developers will never discuss the jobs lost when they approach small towns with a Wal-Mart deal, but Caldor’s is just the latest example of what one Wal-Mart official meant when he said:”At Wal-Mart, we make dust. Our competitors eat dust.” So when Wal-Mart brags about the jobs it has created in New England, please subtract out 22,000 pink slips that Caldor’s will be passing out over the next few months. Nine states will feel this job loss. Only months ago the Rich’s department store chain also imploded, another job loss for the region.
Local officials take note: The retail market is not analagous to the manufacturing sector. Wal-Mart makes nothing except dust. Whatever they tell you they add in jobs, you must net out what they take away. Remember Caldors: 22,000 lessons in Wal-Math. When a company like Wal-Mart tells you that they are “creating” 200 new jobs — don’t expect local citizens to believe it anymore. If you repeat such sprawl-math statistics, expect taxpayers in your town to respond: “Is that gross jobs, or net?” Before you accept any Wal-Mart job creation figures, ask for an independent economic impact study on net job impact to be conducted. You might not like what you see. Remember the only doors at Caldors, are doors that closed.