Discounter Wal-Mart Stores Inc says it will add more than 22,000 jobs in its U.S. namesake stores in 2009.

The forecast points to lower growth compared with last year, as the world's biggest retailer opens fewer of its U.S. Wal-Mart discount stores to focus on expansions and renovations.

Last year, the company created 33,800 U.S. jobs, though that figure also included new jobs at its much smaller Sam's Club members-only chain of warehouse stores.

Wal-Mart has gained market share despite the poor economic climate as shoppers seek out its low prices on everything from food to electronics.

But the retailer has not been immune to the downturn. At an October analyst meeting, executives said the company would slow expansion of new U.S. Wal-Mart supercenters to focus instead on spiffing up existing stores.

Last October, Wal-Mart announced plans to open 157 to 177 new or expanded stores and clubs during the current 2010 fiscal year in the United States.

Numerous retailers including Target Corp and department store operator Macy's Inc have announced job cuts in recent months as the recession slows sales.

Overall, the U.S. economy is expected to shed 520,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in May alone, according to a Reuters poll of 79 economists.

Wal-Mart said the new positions will be in all levels of retail operation, including cashiers sales, store management to pharmacists and other positions.

Benefits, including affordable health plans that offer customized health coverage options, will be available to full- and part-time associates, the company said.

The announcement comes as the retailer readies for its annual shareholder's meeting on Friday, and just four months after it slashed 700 to 800 jobs at its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club home offices in Bentonville, Arkansas.