National Consumers League

WalMart's raising wages. Yay?


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Walmart is getting a lot of attention for pledging to raise the minimum wages it pays employees to $9 an hour by April and $10 an hour within a year. As the economy recovers and more jobs are available, apparently WalMart is having trouble filling its workforce. 

Because Walmart is such a dominant force in the economy, with over 1.3 million employees, 500,000 of whom will be affected by this increase, we can cheer this news. But the fact remains that Walmart, even with these increases, will still lag behind retailers like Gap and Ikea, that current have hourly wages at or above $9, and way behind the compensation offered by Costco, with wages closer to $20 an hour, or the Container Store, whose owner wants to ensure that all his employees earn a salary with benefits equal to $50,000. 

Container Store and Costco are among a small—but we hoping growing—group of employers, that understand that families cannot live on $10 an hour let alone the stingy $7.25 minimum wage.

The companies with the worst policies play havoc with their employees’ schedules – not scheduling them for full time work so they don’t have to pay full time benefits, and changing their schedules day to day so they can’t organize day care or pick up from schools with any regularity. 

So this news from WalMart is positive $10 is better than $7.25; and the benefits will ripple throughout the economy. Still, trying to live on this pay is impossible and WalMart workers will continue to have to rely on public benefits to get by. We agree with Chris Owens from the National Employment Law Project who said, “When compared to the $16 billion in profit that the company rakes in annually, Walmart’s promise of $10 an hour — which even for a full-time worker is not enough to keep a family of four out of poverty — is meager.”

That taxpayers subsidize WalMart’’s workforce is unacceptable and a $10 minimum wage won’t change that.