The Waltons, the richest family in the United States, and the owners of nearly half of all Walmart stock, just announced they’ve given themselves a raise of $436 million dollars. The Board of Directors, which includes three members of the Walton family, just voted to increase the annual dividend by 18% over the previous fiscal year. As a result, the Waltons’ Walmart dividends alone in FY14 will top $3 billion.
According to the latest numbers from Forbes, the Walton family is now worth more than $115 billion. We’ve written previously about how the Walton family has more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined. And, they just keep getting richer.
Meanwhile, Walmart workers are living in poverty – a full-time worker reportedly averages just $15,500/year. And the Huffington Post revealed recently that Walmart associates face strict caps on annual raises for good performance. For the average employee making $8.81 an hour, the best possible raise for “role model” performance under Walmart’s rules amounts to less than 7%–nowhere near the Waltons’ 18% this year. (There are four performance levels below this top rating.)
While the Waltons pile their stacks of money higher, the American taxpayer subsidizes Walmart’s low-wages and poor benefits. In many states across the country, Walmart is the employer with the largest number of employees and dependents using taxpayer-funded health insurance programs.
In Massachusetts, in 2009, taxpayers paid $8.8 million for Walmart associates to use publicly subsidized healthcare services.
In addition, a 2007 study found that, as of that date, Walmart had received more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country. This number has surely increased as Walmart continues to receive additional subsidies.