Taxpayers are picking up the tab for Wal-Mart’s low wages and meager benefits, according to a new congressional report.
Prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and released by Rep. George Miller in February, the report concludes that the federal government is providing an average of $2,100 annually in public assistance per Wal-Mart employee. This includes Section 8 housing assistance, reduced-cost lunches and health care programs for the children of Wal-Mart employees, and tax credits for the working poor.
The report concludes that taxpayers are effectively subsidizing Wal-Mart’s labor costs, giving the company an advantage over more responsible employers. “There’s no question that Wal-Mart imposes a huge, often hidden, cost on its workers, our communities, and U.S. taxpayers,” said Miller. “Wal-Mart is in the driver’s seat in the global race to the bottom.”
The report documents the Wal-Mart’s labor practices, including its wage and benefit policies, history of discrimination and labor law violations, and role in shifting manufacturing to low-wage countries.
The company has responded to growing criticism of its treatment of workers with a multi-million dollar television ad campaign featuring employees talking about how great it is to work at Wal-Mart. The company has also beefed up its campaign contributions. Last year, Wal-Mart’s political action committee ranked as the top corporate donor to federal parties and candidates.