You are paying Wal-Mart employees’ wages. Yep, you.
The notoriously stingy company cuts every corner to keep prices low, and one of those corners is the payroll. It pays employees peanuts (and then cheats them of their overtime peanuts, but that is another story). By “peanuts” I mean an average of $8.81 per hour.
Many of these workers need welfare to survive. Thus you, the taxpayer, are paying part of Wal-Mart employees’ incomes, to the tune of between $900,000 and $1.75 million per store, and about $5,815 per employee. The welfare programs Wal-Mart workers rely on include Medicaid, subsidized housing and SNAP (aka food stamps — contrary to popular belief, over 40 percent of SNAP recipients live in a household with a wage-earner). Mother Jones breaks down the dollar figures each welfare benefit pays Wal-Mart employees in just the state of Wisconsin, concluding that taxpayers pay up to $67.5 million every year to support the company’s Wisconsin workers. And there are 49 more states full of Wal-Marts to pay for.
Being a behemoth, what Wal-Mart does affects its whole supply chain, its competitors, even the retail industry generally — and beyond. The Democratic staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce issued a report in May 2013 called “The Low-Wage Drag on Our Economy: Wal-Mart’s Low Wages and Their Effect on Taxpayers and Economic Growth” which concluded that “Wal-Mart’s business model exerts considerable downward pressure on wages throughout the retail sector and the broader economy.”
24/7 Wall Street tagged Wal-Mart as the company “paying Americans the least.” In the retail sector Wal-Mart employs one of every ten employees, but they earn 28 percent less than other large retailers’ workers. That leaves the company’s competitors with a lot of room, and perhaps a lot of pressure, to slash their payrolls too.
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