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Who’s a Better Employer: the Government or Wal-Mart?

Wall St. Cheat Sheet

At the very least, argues a recent report from Demos, the American government owes employees on its payroll a livable wage. Demos, a research and policy center focused on economic stability, defines low-wage work as “a job paying $12 an hour or less, equivalent to an annual income of about $24,000 for a full-time worker. Nationwide, a family of four trying to subsist on $24,000 a year hovers near the poverty level. Even a single worker with no dependents would find no room in a basic budget for health coverage, a retirement nest egg, or building emergency savings.”

Using this definition, employment figures from a National Employment Law Project report, and estimates of the share of low-wage workers at each business, Demos calculated that McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) employ a combined 1.48 million people at a wage too low to support a family, afford healthcare, or save for retirement. By itself, this number may not necessarily be shocking. Demos places the companies in a bucket of corporations “aiming for the highest possible profit at the lowest possible cost.”