We recently heard the astounding statistic that 6 members of the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, have a total wealth of $93 billion – more than the bottom 30% of Americans combined. At the same time, the family, which controls nearly 50% of company stock is raking in more than $2 billion/year in stock dividends alone.
Some have responded to criticism of the Waltons by arguing that the family is helping to create much needed jobs. Sadly for U.S. workers and families, the facts just don’t support this statement. Here are the facts.
Fact: Walmart is a Job Killer
- Walmart store openings destroy almost three local jobs for every two they create by reducing retail employment by an average of 2.7 percent in every county they enter.
- Walmart cost America an estimated 196,000 jobs – mainly manufacturing jobs – between 2001 and 2006 as a result of the company’s imports from China.
Fact: Walmart Jobs Are Poverty Jobs
- Walmart workers average just $8.81 hour. This translates to annual pay of $15,576, based upon Walmart’s full-time status of 34 hours per week. This is less than 70% of the poverty line for a family of four.
- Walmart pays less than other retail firms. A 2005 study found that Walmart workers earn an estimated 12.4% less than retail workers as a whole, and 14.5% less than workers in large retail in general. A 2007 study which compared Wal-mart to other general merchandising employers found a wage gap of 17.4%.
- Last year, Walmart slashed already meager health benefits, leaving more workers uninsured.
Fact: Taxpayers Are Paying the Price for Walmart
- Despite all the damage they have done to US workers and communities, a 2007 study found that, as of that date, Walmart had received more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country. This number has surely increased as Walmart continues to receive additional subsidies.
- Taxpayers Subsidize Walmart’s Low Wages and Poor Benefits – In many states across the country, Walmart is the employer with the largest number of employees and dependents using taxpayer-funded health insurance programs.
- A few examples:
- In Arizona, according to data released by the state in 2005, the company had more 2,700 employees on the state-funded plan.
- The company also topped the list in their home state of Arkansas, with nearly 4,000 employees forced onto the state’s plan according to data released by the state in 2005.
- In Massachusetts, in 2009, taxpayers paid $8.8 million for Walmart associates to use publicly subsidized healthcare services.
- Although national numbers are not available, if the cost to Massachusetts taxpayers is adjusted nationwide, the cost would be roughly $1 billion.
 Neumark, David, Junfu Zhang, and Stephen Ciccarella, January 2007. “The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor
Markets.” Institute for the Study of Labor Discussion Paper #2545, University of Bonn.
 IBIS World
 Arindrajit Dube and Steve Wertheim. “Walmart and Job Quality: What Do We Know and Should We Care?” October 2005.
 Dube, Arindrajit, T. William Lester, Barry Eidlin, 2007. A Downward Push: The Impact of Wal-Mart Stores on Retail Wages and Benefits.
 Figure is a calculation of the percentage of Massachusetts Walmart associates receiving subsidized care (42%), applied to the 1.4 million associates in the United States, at the cost to Massachusetts per each associate ($1,753.00) receiving aid. Using the data from Massachusetts for 2009 found the percentage of Associates using publicly subsidized care. Percentage is 42%. Then applied this to the entire Walmart workforce to determine number of Associates nationally who would receive publicly subsidized care using the rate in Massachusetts. From the Massachusetts data found the per Associate cost by dividing the total cost of providing subsidized care in MA to Associates by the number of MA Associates receiving subsidized care. This yielded a per Associate cost of $1,753. Multiplied that by 42% of Walmart’s total US workforce (1.4 million). Results in $1 billion.