Wal-Mart announced today that it plans to hire 22,000 people in the U.S. this year, which is nice. Except that's down exactly a third from the company's 33,000 new hires last year.

Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT), despite its many detractors, is the country's largest private employer and says 94% of its employees have at least some health insurance. The new jobs will be spread over the country, with more than 1,000 jobs each in Michigan, California, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. The positions include store management, pharmacists, human resource managers, customer service associates, cashiers and sales associates, according to the press release. If you're interested, check out the careers page on Wal-Mart's web site.

Keep in mind, of course, that at any given time there are dozens of lawsuits against Wal-Mart, many over hiring practices and employee treatment. Wal-Mart is an easy target, it's true, but we encourage our job-seeking readers to proceed with caution.

The company's hires are decreasing as their sales increases slow down. At $401 billion, the discount chain's net sales increased by 7.2% from fiscal year 2008 to 2009. The year before that, they increased 8.6%; before that, 11.6%.