Walmart is often criticized for paying its workers too low of a salary. Many Walmart employees actually rely on food stamps to support their families. Walmart’s defenders claim that prices would go up if they paid all their employees a living wage. Slate investigates the veracity of those claims.
The government gives an average of $130 a month in food stamps to those living below the poverty line. Walmart’s employees are eligible for food stamps if they make less than $20,449 a year. With wages of only $8.81 per hour for cashiers, it’s estimated that roughly forty employees per store qualify for food stamps. The U.S. government spends $76 billion on food stamps each year, with Walmart taking in $13 billion. In order to eliminate this need for food stamps among Walmart employees, the company would have to raise their workers’ pay from $8.81 to $13.63, which would cost Walmart $4.6 billion. In order to compensate, they would have to raise all of their prices by 1.4%. So a 68 cent box of macaroni and cheese would be raised to only 69 cents.