In a recent interview, Walmart CEO Mike Duke told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, “The vast majority of our associates are paid more than [the minimum wage],” estimating that “less than one percent” are paid at that level.
A spokesman clarified for the Huffington Post that in fact less than one half of one percent of its hourly workers, which it calls associates, make the state or federal minimum wage.
Yet that figure leaves out the fact that the low-wage retailer relies heavily on part-time workers. And a recent survey of Walmart locations found that over half are only hiring temporary workers, not full-time positions.
And even if workers are making more than the $7.25 minimum wage floor, they may not be making much more. The company claims that full-time workers make $12.78 an hour, but an IBIS World report puts that number at $8.81. That’s 28 percent than the pay at other large retailers. Workers make so little that they use around $1 million worth of public benefits, such as food stamps and Medicaid, at one location alone. The low pay has sparked worker strikes in protest.
The company has also been a vehement opponent of living wage bills in cities where it wants to open stores. The latest showdown was in Washington, DC, where it has threatened to walk away from its plan to open three stores if the wage is raised to $12.50. It previously helped kill a living wage bill in Chicago through the same tactic.
Meanwhile, the company’s sales have recently suffered, falling 0.3 percent in same-store sales in the second quarter, with visits falling 0.5 percent. Part of the troubles stem from dissatisfied customers thanks to empty shelves and not enough workers to keep them stocked. It ranked at the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index in February.
Other stores have followed a different model. Costco, which competes with Walmart’s Sams Clubs, pays workers $21.96 an hour on average. Its profits rose 19 percent in the first quarter of the year. WinCo, a small Idaho-based grocery store chain, is able to beat Walmart’s prices while paying workers more than $11 an hour and providing generous benefits.