Crap galaxy Walmart has long used overt appeals to American patriotism as a cornerstone of its marketing and PR efforts. A new study attempts to quantify exactly how much bullshit is contained in Walmart’s patriotic reputation.
The Economic Policy Institute has released a paper that puts a number on how many American jobs have been lost as a direct result of Walmart’s purchases of foreign goods from China. Though Walmart ostentatiously touts “Made in America” products at every opportunity, in truth its relentless pursuit to squeeze every last penny of cost from its supply chain means that an enormous portion of its goods are made overseas—particularly in China. According to EPI, in 2013 Walmart imported more than $49 billion worth of Chinese goods. And Walmart alone “accounted for 15.3 percent of the growth of the total U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013.”
More to the point for the Americans that make up Walmart’s customer base: “The Wal-Mart-based trade deficit with China alone eliminated or displaced over 400,000 U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2013.” More than three quarters of those jobs were in manufacturing.
It is fair to debate the net pluses and minuses of outsourcing. But for all of the Americans living in hollowed-out towns that have suffered greatly due to the departure of manufacturing jobs, you should know that the Walmart in your town did more than kill local businesses. It helped to export your jobs overseas, in order to be able to sell you baubles for a few pennies less. Meanwhile, the family that owns Walmart possesses unimaginable wealth rivaling that of many small countries.
Update: Walmart’s flack sends the following statement:
“We are very proud of our U.S. manufacturing initiative and the results speak for themselves. By investing in products that support American jobs, we are able to bring new products to our shelves while bringing new jobs to local communities in Ohio, Tennessee, California, and many others. Unfortunately, this is an old report with flawed economic analysis that assumes that imports equal job losses and does not take into consideration that countless jobs are added through the global supply chain, distribution and logistics, among other areas of the business. Based on data from Boston Consulting Group, it’s estimated that 1 million new U.S. jobs will be created through Walmart’s U.S. manufacturing initiative, including direct manufacturing job growth of approximately 250,000, and indirect job growth of approximately 750,000 in the support and service sectors.”