A new study finds that Walmart’s promised raise for its lowest-paid employees to $9 per hour in 2015 and $10 per hour in 2016, will still require large taxpayer subsidies to compensate for the lowness of Walmart’s wages. Meanwhile a new report from the AFL-CIO finds Walmart is seeking to cut its costs for higher-paid, U.S. high-tech workers by recruiting temporary foreign tech workers at lower wages.
Meanwhile a new study from Americans for Tax Fairness finds that Walmart’s promised raise for its lowest-paid employees to $9 per hour in 2015 and $10 per hour in 2016, will still require large taxpayer subsidies to compensate for the lowness of Walmart’s wages.
The AFL-CIO report finds that Walmart has been increasingly submitting applications for H-1B visas. These visas let U.S. companies employ foreign workers. The report criticizes the reasons the company is using the visas: “Walmart is driving down standards in the tech industry in the U.S. by using H-1B visas and contractors excessively. This keeps costs low and allows for IT guest workers to be paid less.” Over the past eight years, Walmart has filed 1,800 petitions for the visas, including a high of 513 in 2014. Numerous other companies also have filed similar petitions for work in Bentonville, Ark., the home of Walmart’s corporate headquarters. Said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
At a time when we face unprecedented levels of inequality and decades of wage stagnation, it is irresponsible to expand access to employment-based temporary work programs that will continue to hold down wages, increase worker vulnerability and reduce social mobility for deserving workers.
The report also reveals how Walmart has quietly backed corporate lobbying groups pushing to expand the program and increase the number of H-1B visas that are available. In the meantime, the number of H-1B applications for IT workers in Bentonville continues to grow—suggesting that local Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) recent graduates lose out on IT jobs.
The study, from Americans for Tax Fairness finds that the $9 per hour standard would still mean that most of those low-wage workers, even working at Walmart’s full-time standard of 34 hours a week, would bring home less than $16,000 a year. Such a low rate would qualify a single worker for at least three government assistance programs. If the worker has one or more children, they would qualify for eight programs.
The 2016 standard of $10 per hour would raise employees’ annual take home pay by less than $2,000, and if the worker with that salary had one or more children, they would still qualify for all eight government assistance programs. Raising wages to a minimum of $15 per hour with a 40-hour workweek, the report finds, would raise the annual take-home pay for the lowest-paid employees to $31,200 a year, which would lift most workers out of the eligibility bracket for government assistance. Based on the last year of profits made by the Walton family, such a raise would still leave the company’s owners with $10 billion in profit (not to mention their massive existing fortunes).