Business Briefs – September 1, 2016

Wal-Mart Cutting About 7,000 Back-Office Store Jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is cutting about 7,000 back-office store jobs over the next few months as it centralizes its invoice and accounting departments, expanding a test it announced in June.

The nation’s largest private employer said Thursday that the cuts will take place in all its namesake stores, confirming the move reported by The Wall Street Journal. The goal is to get workers out of the backrooms and onto the selling floors as Wal-Mart faces increasing competition from online leader Amazon.com.

Wal-Mart said it believes most of the displaced workers will find new jobs that involve direct contact with shoppers and that the change was not a downsizing move. The customer-facing jobs would include positions like working in the online pickup department or as pharmacy technicians.

U.S. Productivity Down in Spring, While Labor Costs Rise

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. productivity fell in Q2 by a larger amount than first estimated, while labor costs accelerated sharply.

Productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.6 percent, even worse than the 0.5 percent drop initially reported, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It marked the third straight quarter that productivity has fallen.

Labor costs rose at an annual rate of 4.3 percent, the biggest rise since a 5.7 percent increase in the fourth quarter. Labor costs had fallen at a 0.3 percent rate in the first quarter.

U.S. Construction Spending Unchanged In July

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. construction spending was unchanged in July as weakness in spending on government projects offset gains in home building and the strongest month for non-residential construction on record.

Spending in June is now reported up 0.9 percent while May showed an increase of 0.1 percent.

Office building and shopping centers both showed solid gains.