Companies keeping up appearances with Trump


WASHINGTON — From Wal-Mart to General Motors to Amazon, a growing number of the world’s largest companies appear to be trying to get in step with President-elect Donald Trump’s demand that employers hire and keep jobs at home.

Trump, in response, has taken to Twitter to signal his approval.

“Thank you to General Motors and Walmart for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S.!” he tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Yet it’s unclear just how many jobs are actually being saved or created as a result of Trump’s push or whether his administration will hold companies accountable for their pledges. In a solid job market with just 4.7 percent unemployment, hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs are added all the time for a broad range of reasons.

Credit: Trump has boasted that he deserves the credit based on what chief executives have told him, despite evidence to the contrary provided by those same companies.

“Ask top CEO’s of those companies for real facts. Came back because of me!” the president-elect declared on Twitter on Wednesday.

GM announced Tuesday that it was creating or keeping 7,000 jobs, while Wal-Mart said it planned to hire 10,000 and support an additional 24,000 construction jobs with store openings and expansions.

Those announcements followed Amazon’s commitment to add 100,000 workers through mid-2018 and a claim by Chinese online retailer Alibaba that it would create 1 million U.S. jobs over the next five years. That extravagant pledge would make Alibaba alone responsible for over 10 percent of all jobs added each year — an

unheard-of feat in the modern economy.

Healthy economy: Many economists say the hiring being celebrated by Trump reflects, more than anything, the health of the $18.7 trillion economy he is inheriting.

“Between the election and today, unless you work on Capitol Hill in D.C., nothing fundamental has changed in the U.S. labor market,” said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at the jobs site Glassdoor.

To these economists, the latest high-profile hiring announcements suggest that companies are capitalizing on the politically charged climate. Trump has berated companies such as Nabisco for shuttering domestic plants in order to open factories in Mexico, while celebrating companies that publicly commit to hiring in the United States.

What’s more, nearly every major U.S. employer has tax and regulatory issues before the government. To that end, a sympathetic ear in the White House could be helpful.

The heads of German chemical company Bayer and seed-and-herbicide-maker Monsanto met with Trump last week to pitch the benefits of a planned-for merger of the two companies that requires antitrust clearance. And Trump

proudly tweeted reports Wednesday that Bayer would add U.S. jobs.

By announcing new jobs, companies can use any existing hiring plans to ingratiate themselves with Trump by hitching their plans to his economic agenda, noted Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at the consultancy and an accountant with CohnReznick.