New Black Friday tradition: Workers picket Walmart

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David Tovar, a spokesman for Walmart, which reported $16 billion in profit last year, says, “We believe we have very competitive wages that attract and retain millions of associates every day.” 

But having competitive wages in a low-wage industry like retail, isn't saying much, according to Catherine Ruetschlin, a policy analyst with the think-tank Demos. 

“More than a quarter of workers in large firms in the retail industry are people who hold jobs and yet live in or near the poverty threshold,” she says. 

Ruetschlin released a study this week that found if large retailers raised the minimum hourly pay to $25,000 a year for a full time job, their workers' increased purchasing power would have a "multiplier effect" that stimulated the whole economy. And Walmart would be a huge part of that effect. As the nation's largest employer -- with more than a million employees -- it now helps set pay for the entire retail industry.