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Walmart jobs are poverty-level jobs.
Walmart’s average sale Associate makes $8.81 per hour, according to IBISWorld, an independent market research group. This translates to annual pay of $15,576, based upon Walmart’s full-time status of 34 hours per week1. This is significantly below the 2010 Federal Poverty Level of $22,050 for a family of four. The Wall Street Journal reported that the average Walmart cashier makes just $8.48 an hour, far below the $11.22 national average for all cashiers.

Walmart can afford to pay higher wages.
According to a 2011 report (PDF), if Walmart started paying a $12/hour minimum wage, its workers currently earning less than $9 per hour could each earn $3,250 to $6,500 more per year before taxes. If Walmart were to pass this cost directly to shoppers, the average consumer would need to pay only 46 cents more per shopping trip, or $12.50 per year.

In 2010, Walmart CEO Mike Duke received $18.7 million in total compensation, or 1,201 times the annual income of the average Walmart sale Associate.

Walmart’s entry into a market depressed wages, displacing better-paying retail jobs.
A 2005 study (PDF)found that Walmart’s entry into a metropolitan area eliminates similar jobs that pay about 18% more than Walmart. In those areas, the total average earnings of retail workers fell by 0.5 to 0.8% .

Walmart’s average wage for sales associates2 is distinctly lower than the wage for comparable positions at unionized competitors in key markets.

  • The average Walmart sales associate earns 32% less than the average wage of a comparable UFCW worker at one of the three major supermarkets under the current contract for Southern California in 2011.3
  • The average Walmart sales associate earns 21% less than an average comparable retail worker covered by a UFCW contract with a large employer in Massachusetts.4

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1. This assumes that a full-time Walmart Associate works an average of 34 hours/week, 52 weeks/year. The average of 34 hours/week is obtained from an internal Walmart memo (PDF).
2. Sales associate average wages based on wage reported from IBISWorld.
3. UFCW analysis of store-level hours distributions and wage progressions from a 2009-2010 Southern California multi-employer master contract with seven UFCW locals.
4. UFCW analysis of store-level hour distribution and wage progressions from a 2009-2010 UFCW master contract with a large New England supermarket and five UFCW locals.