Walmart Gave Workers a Raise—But It’s Not Enough to Keep Them off the Dole

A Black Friday protest at a Walmart store in Chicago<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ufcwinternational/15716560339/in/photolist-pWPtQg-qecJkS-phgFZo-qbYM4u-phv83T-pWFSmU-phgP3G-qeg8GD-qbYLuJ-pWPi7x-pWPti4-pWFZQw-pWFXth-qe5ZhP-pWPqtg-qecEQA-qecFxs-phvdzV-pWQSjk-phvfGv-qefUcx-qbYCsb-pWG4f7-pWPrkB-pWFS7f-qe5UDk-pWGVTU-qeg2y6-qecKc1-qefYAn-pWPmna-pWFYJJ-pWQP1M-phgQy7-pWG7p3-phgUwN-pWGaLy-qecGzh-qe5Q9P-pWPnqn-pWGX7f-pWG3d7-pWHacC-phvjTB-qecLsh-pWGb3W-phvfvt-phgBch-qe5Pc8-qecBMG">UFCW International Union</a>/Flickr

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A typical Walmart Supercenter costs taxpayers more than $900,000 a year in public assistance doled out to its low-wage workers. This fact, published in a congressional report in 2013, galvanized labor protests at Walmart stores across the country last year, leading the retail giant to announce in February that it would give some 500,000 workers a raise. (Today, McDonald’s announced a similar increase). And that’s something. But according to a report released today by Americans for Tax Fairness, Walmart’s pay is still far too low to wean many “associates” from federal subsidies such as food stamps and Section 8 housing.

Under Walmart’s new plan, full-time associates who’ve completed a six-month training program will earn at least $10 an hour next year. Many Walmart workers, however, are involuntary part-timers, and nearly half of the associates turn over each year. But workers who qualify for the $10 base wage by working at least 34 hours a week, which Walmart considers “full time,” would still earn only $17,680 a year—well below the cutoff for many federal assistance programs, especially if a worker has children.

Americans for Tax Fairness

The four Walton heirs, who are collectively worth $144.7 billion, are Walmart’s largest stockholders and constitute the nation’s wealthiest family. If they wanted to stop enriching themselves at the expense of taxpayers, they could pay their workers at least $15 an hour for a 40-hour workweek. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, this would have cost Walmart about $10.8 billion in 2014, or about half of the increase in the Waltons’ net worth that year.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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