Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

Wal-Mart's Low Wages Cost Taxpayers

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It’s not enough to make ends meet for the 21-year-old single mother. Stinnett and her son are on MediCal, the California Medicaid program. She relies on food stamps for her son, and borrows money from her family to buy diapers and pay rent.

That’s because in the last six months, Stinnett has been scheduled to work 20 hours or fewer a week, which isn’t enough to qualify for Wal-Mart benefits.

“I’m barely scraping by with what I make,” she said. “I have no money whatsoever for emergencies.”

The cost of low wages at Wal-Mart are at the center of a new report released last week by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Low wages are an issue across the economy, but Wal-Mart, as the country’s largest private employer, has long faced closer scrutiny than other companies.

According to the report, the cost of Wal-Mart’s low wages isn’t just felt by workers like Stinnett, but also transferred to American taxpayers. The report zeroes in on Wal-Mart in Wisconsin. That’s because the state releases information on how many workers are enrolled in its public health care program broken down by employer.

At the end of 2012, there were 3,216 Wal-Mart employees who were enrolled in Wisconsin public health care programs, more than any other employer. Add in the dependents of Wal-Mart workers and the total jumps up to 9,207.

Factoring in what taxpayers contribute for public programs, the report estimated that one Wal-Mart supercenter employing 300 workers could cost taxpayers at least $904,000 annually.

• Category: National • Tags: Emily Jane Fox, Walmart