Whenever communities, lawmakers or activists question or criticize Walmart for the way it treats workersâ€”the low-pay, the storesâ€™ impact on the communitiesâ€”the retail giant pulls out a well-worn script with a simple message, â€śWalmart creates jobs and if thereâ€™s one thing this economy needs, itâ€™s more jobs.â€ť
Setting aside the quality of the jobs for another day, is Walmart telling the truth? Sure doesnâ€™t look like it, according toÂ Salonâ€™s Kathleen Geier, who matches Walmartâ€™s claims against in-depth research from universities, economists, government studies and other sources. Hereâ€™s what she finds:
Contrary to Walmartâ€™s self-glorifying mythology, the retailer is anything but a job creatorâ€”in fact, it is a huge job killer. Not only that, destroying jobs is an essential component of Walmartâ€™s anti-worker business model.
She citesÂ a study led by Economist David Neumarkâ€”who, by the way, has written against raising the minimum wage in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Using data from more than 3,000 counties, [the] results show that when a Walmart store opens, it kills an average 150 retail jobs at the county level, with each Walmart worker replacing about 1.4 retail workers. These results are robust under a variety of models and tests.
AÂ 2009 study by Loyola UniversityÂ found that the opening of a Chicago Walmart store was â€śa wash,â€ť destroying as many jobs as it created. According to the report, â€śThere is no evidence that Wal-Mart sparked any significant net growth in economic activity or employment in the area.â€ť Says Geier:
In short, when Walmart comes to town, it doesnâ€™t â€ścreateâ€ť anything. All it does is put mom-and-pop stores out of business.
Walmartâ€™s job-killing spree doesnâ€™t stop at the city limits. The remains of once good jobs are scattered throughout Walmartâ€™s entire supply chain. Its cut-throat drive for lower prices, writes Geier, squeezes suppliers to deliver goods at the lowest possible prices and that means cutting labor costsâ€”aka jobs.
Walmartâ€™s using that specious jobs argument in its fight to block a living wage law in Washington,D.C.Â Find out more here.
Article originally appeared on AFL-CIO NOWÂ on August 6, 2013. Â Reprinted with permission.Â
About the Author: Â Mike Hall is aÂ former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for theÂ United Mine Workers Journaland managing editor of theÂ Seafarers Log. Â He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety