Wal-Mart distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

“Seeking an energetic person willing to drop everything when I call. Must be available 24/7, although I will make no long-term commitment to you.”

If this were a personal ad, we’d assume the writer would stay single forever. But this is essentially the help-wanted ad that Wal-Mart and other retailers are posting these days.

Retail workers who don’t have the benefit of a union contract are all too familiar with low pay, erratic part-time schedules and job insecurity. But industry standards sunk to a new low earlier this month, when Reuters reported that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has been hiring only temporary workers at many of its U.S. stores.

These temporary workers must reapply for their jobs after 180 days. Meanwhile, existing full-time employees are seeing their hours cut to part-time, resulting in understaffed stores with long lines and un-stocked shelves.