The problem with press releases and economic gorilla dust is no one bothers to do the math. So, Wal-Mart will get a lot of hugs and free good press from announcing that it will raises workers’ wages–but the truth is it’s still a sham. People working for Wal-Mart will still live in poverty. The only positive part of the announcement–though unintended–is how Wal-Mart’s announcement shows how pathetic the pre-election (is it even still on the agenda?) White House-Democratic Party’s signature minimum wage proposal is.
So, here’s what the generous Walton family is offering its slaves:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), long criticized for its low wages and employee benefits, said it would spend more than $1 billion to increase pay for half a million U.S. employees this year.The increase announced by the largest private sector employer in the United States will cover about 40 percent of its U.S. workforce, but falls far short of what some labor groups have been agitating for.
Wal-Mart said on Thursday its hourly full-time and part-time workers will earn at least $9.00 an hour, or $1.75 above the current federal minimum wage, starting in April. Current employees will earn at least $10.00 an hour by Feb. 1, 2016.
Net profit attributable to Wal-Mart rose 12 percent to $4.97 billion, or $1.53 per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31.
Total revenue rose 1.4 percent to $131.57 billion.
And, the four Waltons occupy the #6-#9 spots on the Forbes 400 Wealthiest people in the country, with a collective wealth of $158 BILLION.And if you do the math on $9-an-hour, you come up with this: if someone actually worked 52 weeks a year, 40 hours a week (and this is not reality because many Wal-Mart workers don’t get that full-time work even if they wanted it), with no paid vacation, no pension, crumbs for health care coverage, they end up earning $18,720 a year.
$18,720 a year.
The federal poverty rate for a family of THREE is $19,790, for a family of FOUR $23,850.
REPEAT: Wal-Mart’s generosity still leaves a family of three or four people (and certainly larger families) earning less than the poverty level.
And, as an aside, those statistics UNDERSTATE how hard it is just to put food on the table.
So, fuck them, the analysis should be: what an outrage that these rich people continue to starve their workers.
Now, as for the Democrats, what Wal-Mart is doing, as a public service, is shining a light on the absolutely shameful Democratic-White House proposal (the one slavishly celebrated by most “liberal”/progressive bloggers, The Nation and the like) to hike the minimum wage to $10.10-an-hour. Last year, I argued that the idea was a very bad idea, on the economics and on the politics.
In my opinion, it should be $20-an-hour if you just do the math. And, at the very least, it should be $15-an-hour because that’s what can actually move people.
So, when Chuck Schumer and the other Democratic “leaders” (I use “leaders” quite loosely) whined and moaned after the 2014 elections that there was too much focus on the minimum wage and “poor people” and not on the “middle-class” and that’s why Democrats lost, he and the others were dead wrong.
It’s because when you propose raising peoples’ wages to levels that even Wal-Mart will match (by 2016) and when those numbers still leave people in poverty, why would they vote for you?