Bridging the Opportunity Divide

The Cost of Walmart Paying Its Employees a Living Wage

April 14, 2014
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The Cost of Walmart Paying Its Employees a Living Wage
Would it cost the average shopper if the big-box retailer paid its workers more?

Take a guess how much the price of a 68-cent box of mac-and-cheese would increase if Walmart paid its employees a living wage. Twenty-five cents? A dollar?

Try a single penny.

In this fascinating video from Slate and Marketplace, you can see that if Walmart passed the cost of increasing their workers’ salaries along to consumers, prices would only increase by 1.4 percent.

MORE: A Medical Emergency Landed This Physician on Food Stamps, Now She’s Fighting Hunger Stereotypes

It’s no secret that Walmart pays wages so low to their employees that many rely on (yep, taxpayer-funded) food stamps. Many of these workers return to their place of employment, spending their food stamps on Walmart’s low-priced goods — funneling even more money to the big-box retailer in a vicious cycle. As the videos points out, the United States distributed $76 billion in food stamps last year, and Walmart took in 18 percent of food stamp dollars, or about $13 billion.

Of course, why make the consumer pay extra for Walmart to increase its payroll costs when the retail giant could easily absorb this expense? Slate and Marketplace crunched the numbers and found that by simply raising the average cashier’s wage from $8.81 to $13.63 (a point where they would be ineligible for food stamps), would only cost Walmart $4.6 billion — an amount that the company could simply absorb from the $17 billion they made last year.

Kind of puts the Walmart slogan “Save Money, Live Better” into perspective, doesn’t it?

 

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