California taxpayers are spending $86 million a year providing healthcare and other public assistance to the state’s 44,000 Wal-Mart employees, according to a new study by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Industrial Relations.
The study, “Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs,” found that the average Wal-Mart worker required $730 in taxpayer-funded healthcare and $1,222 in other forms of assistance, such as food stamps and subsidized housing, to get by.
Even compared to other retailers, Wal-Mart imposes an especially large burden on taxpayers. Wal-Mart workers earn 31 percent less than the average for workers at large retail companies (more than 1,000 employees), the study found, and require 39 percent more in public assistance.
Employees who’ve been with Wal-Mart for at least a year (about 65 percent of the company’s workforce) make an average of $9.70 per hour, compared to $14.01 per hour for workers at other large retail stores. In addition, 23 percent fewer Wal-Mart workers are covered by the company’s health insurance plan than employees at large retail stores as a whole.
The wage and benefit differential is even greater when Wal-Mart employees are compared to workers at unionized supermarkets, where health coverage is nearly universal and wages average $15.31 per hour. New Study Finds Wal-Mart’s Miserly Wages Cost Taxpayers | Institute for Local Self-Reliance