If Walmart Paid Employees a Living Wage, How Much Would Prices Go Up?

Commentary about business and finance.
Nov. 14 2014 10:10 AM

Would Walmart’s Prices Spike if They Paid Their Employees More?

Watch this video to find out.

As retailers prepare for this year’s Black Friday rush, Walmart workers around the country are staging more strikes to demand a $15-an-hour wage. In April, Andrew Bouvé calculated how much Walmart would have to raise prices to pay its average worker enough to avoid government assistance. The video is reprinted below.

In the series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark traces how big-box stores make billions from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps. What’s more, the wages of many workers at these stores are so low that the workers themselves qualify for food stamps—which the employees then often spend at those big-box stores.

This video crunches the numbers on how much Walmart, the single biggest beneficiary of the food stamp economy, might have to raise prices across the board to help a typical worker earn a living wage.

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A note on methodology: Eligibility for food stamps varies according to income, number of dependents, and other factors. This estimate of Walmart’s potential cost from raising wages is based on wages for a Walmart employee with one dependent working 30 hours a week, a typical retail worker based on federal data.

Andrew Bouvé is the co-executive producer for Slate video.

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