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

Why Wal-Mart Can Afford to Give Its Workers a 50% Raise

The world's largest retailer is under fire for its low wages. But the numbers show it can easily pay more without tanking its stock.

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FORTUNE — When a Wal-Mart executive boasted at a Goldman Sachs investor conference in September that 475,000 of the company’s U.S. store associates make more than $25,000 — meaning that a large portion of its 1.4 million workers in the U.S. make less — a long-simmering debate about the company’s wages boiled over. Last week, a large protest outside a California Wal-Mart store led to 50 arrests.

Fueling the anger, Payscale, a salary information site, estimates that Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke’s 2012 pay of $23.2 million was 1,034 times more than the company’s average worker. Wal-Mart has called that figure inflated.

So how much should Wal-Mart (WMT) pay its employees? To tackle that tricky question, I crunched a bunch of numbers and concluded this: Wal-Mart’s workers should get a 50% raise.

• Category: National • Tags: Stephen Gandel, Walmart