Walmart wages are so low that many of its workers rely on food stamps and other government aid programs to fulfill their basic needs, a reality that could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000 at just one Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin, according to a study released by Congressional Democrats
Though the study assumes that most workers who qualify for the public assistance programs do take advantage of them, it injects a potent data point into a national debate about the minimum wage at a time when many Walmart and fast food workers are mounting strikes
in pursuit of higher wages.
The study uses Medicaid data released in Wisconsin to piece together the annual cost to taxpayers for providing a host of social safety net programs, including food stamps and publicly subsidized health care, to workers at one Supercenter in the state.
According to the report, Walmart had more workers enrolled in the state’s public health care program in the last quarter of last year than any other employer, with 3,216 people enrolled. When the dependents of those workers were factored in, the number of enrollees came to 9,207.
"When low wages leave Walmart workers unable to afford the necessities of life, taxpayers pick up the tab," the report says.
HuffPost asked Walmart for comment but didn't immediately hear back.
After accounting for the total number of Walmart stores and employees across the state and the per-person costs of BadgerCare, as the state’s health care program is known, the report's authors estimated that the cost of publicly funded health care comes to $251,706 per year for a 300-employee Supercenter.