With 1.3 million American employees, Walmart has the ability to influence retail wages in a way that no other company does. A new report says Walmart is still stealing from the public treasury.
A previous examination of Walmart's pay structure found that the company was costing taxpayers more than $6 billion per year in public assistance payments to Walmart employees who were not paid enough to be able to afford to pay for their own basic needs. This, combined with the fact that Walmart is a dedicated tax-dodger, is either very unAmerican or very American, depending on your viewpoint. America's biggest employer, which has never stopped wrapping itself quite ostentatiously in the American flag, achieves its profits by keeping its employees in poverty, and letting the public pay for their needs. Meanwhile, Walmart's owners are unimaginably wealthy.
Earlier this year, Walmart announced that it will soon be raising the wages of its employees, so that new workers will be making $10 an hour by next year. This was the company's response to years of pressure from the labor movement. And how does Walmart's shiny new commitment to higher wages stack up on the "keeping employees off of welfare" front? Not terribly well, when you look at the big picture. A new report out today from Americans for Tax Fairness analyzes Walmart's new wage paradigm, and the following three bullet points neatly sum up the company's place in the ethical hierarchy:
- Many Walmart workers being paid $10/hour would also qualify for public programs. A worker paid $10/hour and working "full-time" at 34 hours a week would take home just $17,680. With two or more members in their household, this worker would qualify for all eight programs.
- Increasing Walmart employees' wages to $15/hour at full-time work of 40 hours a week, or $31,200/year, would lift many of its workers above the income level at which they would be eligible for these programs. Households with up to two people would not be eligible for seven out of eight programs.
- The four primary Walton heirs saw their fortune increase by $20.9 billion between March 2014 and March 2015. For about half this money – $10.8 billion – the Waltons could give every one of Walmart's 1.3 million U.S. employees a $5/hour raise and still pocket $10 billion.
The movement to shake a few pennies loose from the Walton family will probably never end.