1. “Low” prices are actually high
Because Wal-Mart pays low wages to its employees, the rest of us are left to pick up the tab through government services such as welfare and Medicaid. According to a University of California at Berkley study, the average Wal-Mart employee requires over $1,900 a year in government assistance.
What is more shocking is that these employees work for the largest corporation in the world, with revenues over $400 billion a year.
According to a Daily Kos article:
Walmart earns over $15 billion per year in pure profit and pays its executives handsomely. In 2011, Walmart CEO Mike Duke – already a millionaire a dozen times over – received an $18.1 million compensation package. The Walton family controlling over 48 percent of the corporation through stock ownership does even better. Together, members of the Walton family are worth in excess of $102 billion – which makes them one of the richest families in the world.
Yet, the company’s own employees often have to turn to us taxpayers for assistance because they are not paid a living wage.
2. Competitors pay their employees better
Wal-Mart employees are among the lowest paid workers in their industry and a third of them work less than 28 hours a week, meaning they don’t get benefits.
According to the UC Berkley study cited earlier:
Employees who’ve been with Wal-Mart for at least a year (about 65 percent of the company’s workforce) make an average of $9.70 per hour, compared to $14.01 per hour for workers at other large retail stores. In addition, 23 percent fewer Wal-Mart workers are covered by the company’s health insurance plan than employees at large retail stores as a whole.
At competitors, such as Costco, the average employee makes almost $16 an hour; and over 80% of employees are covered by a health plan. In addition, approximately 10% of Costco’s employees are unionized.
3. Products are often made overseas
It’s no secret that Wal-Mart keeps its prices low by buying many of its products from manufacturers that use cheap overseas labor. The net result is that good American jobs disappear and much of the savings gained from the use of the cheaper labor goes into the pockets of a handful of executives rather than into the US economy.
A great way to find American products – and support good American jobs – is to use Labor 411’s online directory at www.labor411.org. The directory lists over 4,700 items and notes which unions make each product.
What do you think of Wal-Mart’s impact on the American economy? We’d love to hear your thoughts in our comments section!