New Federal Reserve data shows that the heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom 42% percent of Americans — or 48.8 million families.
In 2007, the Walton family “only” held as much wealth as 35 million American families. So, are American families now in a worse economic position or are the Waltons better off?
Well, both, as you probably guessed.
Per the Economic Policy Institute:
Concretely, between 2007 and 2010, while median family wealth fell by 38.8 percent, the wealth of the Walton family members rose from $73.3 billion to $89.5 billion. In 2007, it was reported that the Walton family wealth was as large as the bottom 35 million families in the wealth distribution combined, or 30.5 percent of all American families.
And in 2010, as the Walton’s wealth has risen and most other Americans’ wealth declined, it is now the case that the Walton family wealth is as large as the bottom 48.8 million families in the wealth distribution (constituting 41.5 percent of all American families) combined.
These numbers come into even sharper focus when juxtaposed with the income of the average Walmart worker.
- Although the company will often cite higher numbers, the average Walmart Associate makes just $8.81 per hour according to a study published by Bloomberg News. An employee who works Walmart’s definition of full-time (34 hours per week) makes just $15,500 per year. That means hundreds of thousands of people who work full-time at Walmart still live below the poverty line.
- According to data compiled by Good Jobs First, in 21 of 23 states which have disclosed information, Walmart has the largest number of employees on the public rolls of any employer. In fact, Walmart associates cost taxpayers an estimated one billion dollars nationwide.
- Healthcare isn’t the only way taxpayers subsidize the Walton family’s wealth. Using tactics such as deducting rent payments made to itself (through a captive real estate investment trust) 1 Walmart avoids an estimated $300 million a year in state corporate income tax payments.
Most of us can’t even begin to conceive of what it would be like to have $89.5 billion.
- Let’s put it this way, according to Forbes’ list of the most valuable sports franchises, the Walton heirs could afford to buy every major league baseball team, every NBA team, every NHL team and every NFL team, and still have money left over to buy some of the most valuable soccer teams in the world.
- To put it yet another way, according to a recent Time article, the net worth of the average American household is $319,970. Multiply that by 2,797,137and you have the Walton heirs’ wealth.
The Waltons are by far the most prominent example of the unjust, disturbing and growing wealth disparity in the United States. For a more detailed account, visit the Walmart 1% website.
This post was written by Kurt Scott.
 Phillip Mattera, “Shifting the Burden for Vital Public Services: Walmart’s Tax Avoidance Schemes”, Good Jobs First, Feb 2011