Commentary

The good and bad in Wal-Mart’s underwhelming pay raises

raise the wageIn the giant banana republic of haves and have nots that the U.S. economy has increasingly come to resemble, any bump in the pay dosed out to front line workers by a company as huge and generally predatory as Wal-Mart — however modest — is a good thing. When a half-million people are able to take home a few more bucks a week, that’s good for them and good for the companies with whom they shop…like Wal-Mart. So hooray for the news.

Lest anyone get too moist in the eyes, however, and/or start cranking out humanitarian award nominations for the Walton family gozillionaires, it should be noted that the raises (1.1 percent for the average full-time wage over the next year, to $13 an hour and 5.2 percent for part-timers to an average $10 an hour, by February 2016) still leave those workers bringing home incomes much too low to live on. As the Associated Press reports about the new wage rates:

“Both fall below the $15 an hour ‘living wage’ many union-backed Wal-Mart employees have been pushing for. Driven by rising income inequality and a decades-long decline in middle-class jobs, workers are also campaigning for steep wage hikes at other major non-unionized employers, including McDonalds and other fast food chains….

In Fayetteville, Arkansas — near the company headquarters — a single parent of one child would need to earn $16.85 an hour, almost $4 an hour more than Wal-Mart’s pay raise for full-time workers, according to a living wage calculator created Amy Glasmeier, a professor of economic geography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The calculator examines the costs of food, housing, transportation and medical care around the country.

In pricier parts of the country, the living wage is far higher: In Philadelphia, it rises to $19.68 an hour. In San Leandro, California, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s more affordable suburbs, a single parent’s living wage is $23.22.”

The living income standard for a worker with one child in North Carolina averages $16.21 per hour.

Of course, the real solution to the problem of poverty level wages for workers across America would be a sizable bump in the federal minimum wage. President Obama has proposed raising it from $7.25 per hour to $10.10, but obviously, a genuine living wage would be significantly higher.

As the Los Angeles Times editorialized this morning, Wal-Mart’s actions should send a signal to Congress that it’s well past time for such action. Let’s hope fervently that such a message gets through ASAP.

But don’t hold your breath.

5 Comments


  1. Alex

    February 21, 2015 at 8:04 am

    We even have a dictator to run the banana republic now. He rules by edict,changes regulations on a whim,and generally ignores the constitution. I see very little difference between him and the Castro brothers.

  2. ML

    February 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Propaganda! Anarchy! Obama is Stalin! The majority of the country elected a dictator who will be out of office in two years.

    Ease up on the crazy rhetoric and come down to planet earth Alex/lsd.

  3. Alan

    February 23, 2015 at 7:38 am

    “Obvious facts”? What planet are you on? You’re letting your paranoid hatred of President Obama get in the way of rational thought. It’s comments like this that make the far-right look like a bunch of ignorant hicks.

  4. Alan

    February 23, 2015 at 7:49 am

    I think ALEC is confused, I think he meant those other well known commies, the Marx brothers, Chico, Harpo, Groucho and Karl.

  5. Alan

    February 23, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I’m always amazed at ALECs intellect deficit disorder. Look out ALEC, the commies are coming!

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