In a slideshow presentation to analysts at a conference, President & CEO of Walmart U.S. Bill Simon included the fact that over 475,000 of its associates, what it calls its workers, made more than $25,000 last year. Given that the company employs about a million hourly workers in its stores, according to a company spokesperson, that means about 525,000 make less than that.
On promotions, it says it grants about 160,000 a year, which means about 16 percent of its workforce gets a boost. The spokesperson told ThinkProgress that of those, 40 percent of the promotions go to workers in their first year of employment with the company. About 75,000 people are promoted to full-time each year. Although Simon said in the presentation that the company is “still in majority full-time workforce” and boasted more than 15,000 job openings every day, a recent survey found that over half of its locations were only hiring temporary workers, not full-time positions.
The company’s low wages and few benefits come at a price for taxpayers. Workers at a single location can consume about $1 million in public benefits because they need help to make ends meet.
It also comes at a cost for the company. After taking a beating in sales for some time, it recently decided to add more full-time workers ahead of the holiday shopping season. The lack of full-time workers had been leading to empty shelves and widespread customer dissatisfaction. And other companies point to a different, profitable approach. Costco, which competes with Walmart’s Sams Clubs, pays the average worker $21.96 an hour and gets much more revenue and profit per employee with a higher return for investors. A small grocery store chain based in Idaho called WinCo even beats Walmart’s prices while paying workers more than $11 an hour and offering generous benefits.