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• Wal-Mart issued a press release yesterday saying that it created 125,000 new jobs last year and that its average full-time hourly wage increased last year from $9.68 to $10.11.

“This is the result of our company growing to meet the demands of our customers and our total commitment to attracting and retaining the best associates possible," said Lawrence Jackson, executive vice president for the People Division for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "When we open a store, we often receive thousands of applications for just a few hundred jobs. That's because working men and women know that our jobs pay competitive wages, and offer quality benefits, including affordable health insurance, and career growth opportunities."

In some markets, Wal-Mart said, it was paying full timers even more: $11.58 in Denver, $11.49 in Boston, $11.11 in Atlanta, $11.05 in San Francisco, $10.78 in New York, $10.98 in San Diego, and $10.29 in Los Angeles.

However, not everyone was buying.

Paul Blank, campaign director for, released a response that read, in part:

"Wal-Mart is a company speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Recently, Wal-Mart pledged to Wall Street it would reduce labor costs and an internal memo, authored by senior management, confirmed their intention to shift to more part-time employees. Now, Wal-Mart's spin machine thinks we will just believe their average hourly wage has increased. Wal-Mart's figures are questionable at best and are more likely attributable to a reduction in the number or redefinition of full-time associates than a desire to do the right thing. Wal-Mart should release its full wage and benefits data for public review so that it can be thoroughly analyzed and verified. Real working families in America understand Wal-Mart's business practices drive down wages, lower benefits, and ship U.S. jobs overseas."

• The Wall Street Journal this morning reports on the tensions that exist between two major anti-Wal-Mart group: “ and Wal-Mart Watch have two things in common: They criticize Wal-Mart, and they criticize each other.” seems to be more focused on generating community support for its anti-Wal-Mart efforts; it has taken the somewhat controversial approach of getting religious leaders to author a letter suggesting that Jesus would not shop at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart Watch, on the other hand, is more focused on unionizing activities, which may be a result of the union funding that got it started.

Wal-Mart tells the WSJ that it doesn’t see much difference between the two. "To us, these are both campaigns directed by union leadership intended to criticize a company trying to help working families," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sarah Clark tells the paper. "There are well-meaning critics out there. These two organizations don't fall into that category."

KC's View: