Shirley Leung’s “It’s time to say yes to Walmart” (Business, Aug. 2) neglects to mention that Walmart’s business model — low wages and $17 billion in annual profits — places an enormous burden on US taxpayers. A May 2013 congressional staff report found that a hypothetical 200-person Walmart store costs taxpayers an estimated $420,750 per year. A similar study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center concluded that Walmart workers’ reliance on public assistance programs in California cost taxpayers an estimated $86 million annually.
The vast majority of the nearly 500,000 Massachusetts residents earning less than $11 an hour, many of whom are Walmart employees, are not paid enough to be economically self-sufficient. They receive government subsidies for daily needs, including child care, health care, transportation, food, housing, and education, constituting billions of dollars annually within the state budget.
Meanwhile, four of the 10 richest Americans are Walmart Waltons, with more than $100 billion in combined wealth. Income inequality in the United States today is at its highest level since before the Great Depression, with Massachusetts ranking second-highest in income inequality in the country.
There is a way to bring low prices and living-wage jobs to Boston residents who desperately need both. But Walmart is not the answer.
The writer is cochairman of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.