Job Gap Report: No Living Wages Make Walmart a Scrooge

The leaves have fallen from their branches and await their final rest upon winter’s calm. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend has arrived, the one holiday of the year when families gather simply to reflect on the good things in life. Then, as the clock strikes midnight, it is time to waken from our over-fed slumber, take to the streets with wallets in hand, and prepare for another favorite holiday: Black Friday.

Shopping is a great American pastime. Unless, of course, you are a Walmart employees who does not earn enough to survive, let alone shop.

Despite working hard to make an honest living, Walmart employees find that their paychecks fall short of meeting their day-to-day needs. Employees across the country are working one, two, even three jobs simply to keep a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food on their tables.

The once-deeply held belief that hard work equals success is proving to be nothing more than a far-fetched myth.

The Alliance for a Just Society has spent over a decade calculating how much an individual will need to earn to meet life’s most basic needs.

Our most recent findings show that a single adult range needs to make from $13.13 an hour ($27,317 full-time over a year) in Montana to $14.88 an hour ($30,960 a year) in Colorado just to make ends meet. For a single adult with two children, living wages range from $22.95 an hour ($47,745 a year) in Montana to $29.24 an hour ($60,825 a year) in Colorado.

This concept is called the “living wage,” a fiscally conservative, no-frills study of the cost of transportation, childcare, housing, healthcare, and taxes.Employees work hard and long hours filling Walmart shelves with food, electronics, clothes and household supplies that many cannot afford to purchase for their own families. Items that they sell daily are far beyond the reach of their personal possessions.

To speak out against the unjust low-wage jobs, Walmart workers are participating in an unprecedented national protest strike taking place this Black Friday.

Most can agree that there is something fundamentally wrong with an economic system where highly profitable companies leave so many workers in poverty.

After all, there are many benefits to society when people earn living wages. In this land of opportunity, consumer spending increases, which creates an economic ripple effect that benefits the entire state. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Walmart should pay living wages to its employees so that this can be a holiday season that we are all thankful for.

>> Click here to download the 2011 Job Gap Report

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