Hundreds of job seekers line up for Walmart positions

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The last time a major retailer held a hiring event in Altadena was two years ago, so it's no surprise that a long line of people showed up Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Baptist Church. That's where Walmart was holding a job fair for 65 positions that will be filled at its new Neighborhood Market.

Dominic Barron was dressed in a pinstripe suit, ready to tout his retail experience in order to get a job as a cashier or stock room manager. Barron, 23, has been out of work for about three months, after he quit his job at Macy’s because they were going to give him a pay cut.

“I heard there was a possibility of a job opening, so I decided to come out here,” Barron said.

Barron said it’s been difficult applying for jobs. He has been rejected several times and even Jack in the Box said they didn’t have openings.

“It’s been quite rough,” Barron said.

The job openings range from cashiers and sales associates to pharmacy technicians. According to Walmart, the average hourly wage for its California workers is $12.89 an hour. Altadena store manager Jennifer Gonzales said about 60 percent of the positions will be part-time, the rest full-time. All workers are eligible for medical benefits, she said.

“I’m getting resumés from everyone coming through the doors, so it’s very good. Very exciting,” Gonzales said.

By late Saturday morning, a large crowd of job seekers lined up on the perimeter of the church. The event, called “Hiring Altadena,” was organized by the Foothill Workforce Investment Board.

Joumana Barakat, the board’s business liaison management analyst, said 400 people had registered for the event, but by the late morning, she said attendance could reach 700 people.

Job seekers met with Walmart managers and received interview and application tips from the state’s Employment Development Department and the non-profit group, L.A. Works.

The Altadena store is still under construction and is expected to open next year. Several small businesses near the new Walmart store are worried they won’t be able to compete with its prices.

Walmart has been ramping up the openings of Neighborhood Market stores, with plans to have more than 500 of them grossing more than $10 billion in sales nationwide by fiscal year 2016. A Neighborhood Market store is one-fifth the size of a typical Walmart supercenter and sells fresh groceries and household supplies. You won’t find TVs or furniture there. The retailer has said these stores cost less to operate and require less capital to build than a supercenter. 

Walmart will open a hiring center for the new store at 2369 Lincoln Ave., beginning Monday. 

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