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Walmart quietly lays off thousands of workers after bonus announcement

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Workers across the country were not told of the closings and showed up to work to find stores shuttered.

Thursday morning, Walmart had a flashy announcement: Thanks to corporate tax cuts, it was giving its employees bonuses of up to $1,000. Walmart and President Trump pointed to the announcement as proof that the corporate tax cuts are really a boon to working-class Americans.

This announcement, as ThinkProgress reported earlier, was much more complicated than it first sounds.

Walmart employees are eligible for the $1,000 bonus only if they’ve worked at the company for 20 years. Most Walmart employees, of course, haven’t worked there that long. Those employees will receive a smaller bonus based on seniority. Walmart didn’t explain exactly how the sliding scale will work, but said the total value of the bonuses will be $400 million. Walmart has about 2.1 million employees, which works out to be an average bonus of about $190. The one-time bonus Walmart announced this morning amounts to just over 2 percent of the total value of the tax cut to the company. In fiscal year 2017, Walmart had pre-tax profits of about $20.5 billion and paid an effective federal tax rate of around 30 percent. With a new corporate tax rate of 21 percent, the corporate tax cut is worth at least $1.85 billion to Walmart every year. Since this cut is permanent, the true benefits to Walmart will grow much larger over time. But it’s safe to say that, over 10 years, this corporate tax cut will be worth over $18 billion to Walmart.

But now it appears the announcement was timed carefully to cover for thousands of unannounced layoffs.

Business Insider reports that today, Walmart is abruptly closing numerous Sam’s Clubs stores across the United States. In some cases “employees were not informed of the closures prior to showing up to work on Thursday” and “learned that their store would be closing when they found the store’s doors locked and a notice announcing the closure.”

Walmart confirmed the abrupt closings and offered an explanation of sorts on Twitter. “Closing clubs is never easy,” the company said through its verified corporate account.

Business Insider identified at least 68 stores across the country that closed today. Three of the stores are located in Hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. More stores are slated to be closed in the coming days.

Walmart’s behavior is part of a pattern of corporate misdirection related to the GOP tax cuts. AT&T and Comcast both announced bonuses for their employees while also laying off thousands.

While Trump talks about a “jobs boom,” job growth was slower in 2017 than in any year since 2010.