Walmart employees received a Christmas gift which has a lasting value. In addition, future employees will benefit as well from Christmas 2014. But it wasn’t the retail giant who played Santa Claus, it came from state governments. Walmart’s position of underpaying employees increased taxes for the average working man. Therefore we all received a small gift we were not expecting.
Walmart has nearly 1.4 million employees. 21 states have increased their minimum wage standards; some by legislative action, and others through ballot initiatives. In order to adhere to each state’s standard, Walmart must increase wages for approximately 33 percent of its employees.
This is not only good news for workers at Walmart, but also for taxpayers. The increase will make life more livable for one-third of the company’s workforce, but also eliminate many of their names from the rolls of welfare and other social programs.
Recently Walmart employees joined with others to remind the corporation that they receive $7.8 billion in tax incentives from the federal government. At the same time a great many employees received assistance from social programs. The Walton family, who owns Walmart is the richest family in the United States; their stores make a whopping $16 billion annually.
It is estimated that America’s biggest retailer is the beneficiary of $6.2 billion in profit as the result of low pay, and little or no benefits for hundreds of thousands of employees. Many of those same employees are forced to obtain food stamps and seek other forms of assistance. That $6.2 billion figure becomes an additional tax burden for the American people.
When our economy nearly crashed into a depression in 2008, changes in employment practices forced millions of workers into the job market willing to accept lower paid jobs. Job seekers possessing college degrees who formerly had well-paying positions with construction companies and the like sought hourly labor at companies such as Walmart and the fast food industry. The quality of the pool of those seeking employment became overqualified. Walmart and companies such as McDonald’s benefitted from a more talented and experienced work force. Sadly, minimum wage became our nation’s new standard.
The situation began long before our country’s economic downturn in 2008. When President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA in 1993. Under the disguise of opening free trade with Canada and Mexico, movement of many of our nation’s best jobs to foreign shores began. Now a similar agreement with the European Union is receiving mass protests throughout Europe.
A Walmart spokesman claimed that the facts are inaccurate. He says that 99 percent of the company’s employees are paid above minimum wage standards. He also states that the company offers more opportunities for advancement and greater economic opportunity than any other.
In another statement last month Walmart is claiming foul and complains about increased costs. They said that ‘investment in wages,’ and increases in healthcare costs forced a 3.5 percent increase in operating costs in the last quarter.
By James Turnage