WASHINGTON — A report released by the staff of a group of House Democratic lawmakers on Thursday contends the low wages and benefits that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pays its employees may be costing taxpayers millions of dollars because the retail giant’s workers and dependents are forced to rely more on public-assistance programs.
“Wal-Mart plays a leading role in this story [of income inequality and wage stagnation threatening the middle class],” the report said. “Its business model has long relied upon strictly controlled labor costs: low wages, inconsiderable benefits and aggressive avoidance of collective bargaining with its employees.”
The 20-page report, titled “The Low-Wage Drag on Our Economy: Wal-Mart’s Low Wages and Their Effect on Taxpayers and Economic Growth,” draws from new demographic data released by Wisconsin’s Medicaid program and was prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. As the largest private-sector employer in the U.S., the report stated that Wal-Mart’s business model “exerts considerable downward pressure on wages throughout the retail sector and the broader economy.
“Taxpayer-funded public benefit programs make up the difference between Wal-Mart’s low wages and the costs of subsistence,” said the report, which found that “a single 300-employee Wal-Mart Supercenter in Wisconsin may cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee.”
Wal-Mart operates 100 stores in Wisconsin, 75 of which are Wal-Mart Supercenters, according to the report.
“Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, yet they pay such low wages that many of its workers are unable to provide their families with the necessities of life,” said Rep. George Miller (D., Calif.), senior Democrat on the committee. “The labor policies of Wal-Mart and those of companies that emulate its low-road approach end up leaving taxpayers holding the bag.”
Miller has sponsored a bill in the House that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour from the current $7.25 in three steps and index it to inflation. He argues that more than 30 million Americans would see a raise from this legislation and an estimated 18 million children would also benefit.
Low-wage compensation programs lead to higher costs associated with programs such as housing assistance, food stamp programs, child-care subsidies, energy assistance and reduced school meals, according to the report, which outlines the negative impact low-wage compensation policies like that of Wal-Mart have on the economy. It also recommends policies to address the issue, including efforts to strengthen worker’s rights, increase the minimum wage and narrow the gender pay gap.
“Workers with more money in their pockets also need less public assistance,” the report concluded. “In this way, increased wages in the retail sector can lead to a virtuous cycle that promotes economic growth while reducing the deficit through a larger tax base and less need for public assistance.”
Wal-Mart did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast