AMAZON GETS HUGE SUBSIDIES TO PROVIDE GOOD JOBS — BUT IT’S A TOP EMPLOYER OF SNAP RECIPIENTS IN AT LEAST FIVE STATES
LATER THIS YEAR, Amazon will begin accepting grocery orders from customers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal anti-poverty program formerly known as food stamps. As the nation’s largest e-commerce grocer, Amazon stands to profit more than any other retailer when the $70 billion program goes online after an initial eight-state pilot. But this new revenue will effectively function as a double subsidy for the company: In Arizona, new data suggests that one in three of the company’s own employees depend on SNAP to put food on the table. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, the figure appears to be around one in 10. Overall, of five states that responded to a public records request for a list of their top employers of SNAP recipients, Amazon cracked the top 20 in four.
By 2021, Amazon is projected to handle 50 percent of all online sales in the United States. To accomplish this, it must add to the dozens of fulfillment centers that ensure the swift delivery of cheap televisions and shampoo bottles to nearly every corner of the nation. And to finance this expansion, the company will doubtless continue to leverage the promise of full-time jobs with benefits that it has used to win more than $1.2 billion in incentives from state and local governments so far. However, though taxpayers have generously subsidized the build-out of Amazon’s warehouses, it’s not clear that the company has held up its end of the bargain. The jury is still out on its warehouses’ net effects on long term employment in the places they’re located. And independent analyses have shown that the company pays below-average wages for the warehouse jobs it brings to town.
The new data showing Amazon employees’ extensive reliance on SNAP demonstrates an additional public cost of the corporation’s rapid expansion. Even as generous subsidies help its warehouses turn a profit, its workers still must turn to the federal safety net to put food on the table.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, an estimated $24.8 million in subsidies support 13 warehouses employing around 10,000 workers. At the same time, more than 1,000 of those workers don’t make enough money to buy groceries, according to public data provided by the state. [snip]
Email reveals who’s really paying for Amazon Prime’s new discount at Whole Foods: vendors
In advance of the nationwide rollout, a distributor servicing Whole Foods in the Northeast emailed its vendors to announce the new program and how it will work. This type of communication likely went on between dozens—and maybe hundreds—of distributors, vendors, and buyers, but just one email made it into our hands.
In the email, obtained by The New Food Economy, Whole Foods explains that it will apply a 10 percent “scanback charge” for any product purchased that is currently on sale. This means that, when a customer purchases a sale item (think yellow shelf tag), the deeper discount—an extra 10 percent—offered to Prime customers will mandatorily be charged back to the vendor. This charge makes the hit that vendors already take on sale items even bigger.
The email was sent before the national rollout was moved up to the end of June and says that the program will go into effect in the Northeast in August. It is currently unclear if this policy will affect smaller product categories like meat, seafood, and produce. It is also unclear if vendors were offered the opportunity to change their sale plans ahead of the nationwide launch. Whole Foods did not respond to our request for clarification in time for publication. [snip]
Report: Walmart Workers Cost Taxpayers $6.2 Billion In Public Assistance
Walmart’s low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15.
Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 400 national and state-level progressive groups, made this estimate using data from a 2013 study by Democratic Staff of the U.S. Committee on Education and the Workforce.
“The study estimated the cost to Wisconsin’s taxpayers of Walmart’s low wages and benefits, which often force workers to rely on various public assistance programs,” reads the report, available in full here.
Walmart’s Food Stamp Scam Explained in One Easy Chart
2014 Step One: Pay your employees so little that they are forced to rely on food stamps to survive.
Even at Walmart’s definition of a full-time job, an employee earning the company’s average wage of $8.81/hour makes just $15,500 per year, placing them well below the federal poverty line for a family of four. With such low wages, even when working full-time hours, many associates are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid to survive. In other words, Walmart is shifting responsibility onto the public for ensuring their associates’ basic needs are met. One study showed that a single Walmart can cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee for these programs all because one of the world’s most profitable retailers is paying substandard wages and benefits. A more recent report by Americans for Tax Fairness revealed that Walmart’s reliance on programs like food stamps cost federal taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion a year.
2015 Here’s a stark number for understanding how low-wage employers are relying on the kindness of taxpayers: $153 billion.
That’s the annual bill that state and federal governments are footing for working families making poverty-level wages at big corporations such as Walmart (WMT) and McDonald’s (MCD), according to a new study from the University of California Berkeley Labor Center. Because these workers are paid so little, they are increasingly turning to government aid programs such as food stamps to keep them from dire poverty, the study found.
While McDonald’s has vowed to raise wages and Walmart is just this month boosting pay for many workers, that’s come after intense political pressure from advocacy groups such as the Fight for $15, which is urging legislation and private-sector change to push the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. While the cost of living has continued to rise, the baseline hourly rate has remained at $7.25 since 2009. At the same time, the post-recession years have created more low-wage jobs than higher-paid ones, adding 1.85 million more Americans to the ranks of poorly paid workers.
“When companies pay too little for workers to provide for their families, workers rely on public assistance programs to meet their basic needs,” Ken Jacobs, chair of the labor center and co-author of the new report, said in a statement. “This creates significant cost to the states.” [snip]