The Walmart 1 Percent in Iowa


  • Walmart Board of Directors member Arne Sorenson is a member of the Board of Regents at Luther College (Iowa): 700 College Drive, Decorah, IA 52101; (563) 387-2000



The Walmart 1 Percent’s Influence in Iowa Politics

The Walton family in politics

The Waltons contributed $16,900 to candidates for Congress from Iowa between the 1990 election cycle and 2010. All but $500 went to Republicans.[1]

Walmart in politics

The Walmart PAC spent $119,250 on Congressional candidates from Iowa over the same time period. Seventy-nine percent of it went to Republican candidates. Walmart spent another $139,435 on candidates and party committees in Iowa from 2003 to 2010.[2]



Walmart’s Impact on Iowa’s Employment Picture

Impact of Walmart stores on retail and other jobs

Based on data available through Walmart’s website, there were 16,910 Walmart associates in Iowa as of January 31, 2012.

According to a 2006 study, for every retail job created at Walmart, communities lose 1.4 retail jobs.[3] Based on the findings of this study, we estimate that, if Walmart had no stores in Iowa, there would be an additional 6,764 retail jobs in the state.

Impact of Walmart’s China sourcing on jobs

Based on an estimate of Walmart’s share of the U.S.-China trade deficit, we can estimate that Iowa lost an estimated 1,944 jobs as a result of Walmart’s practice of sourcing heavily from China.[4]



Walmart’s Cost to Iowa Taxpayers

Taxpayer subsidies for Walmart

Walmart is the world’s biggest company.[5] But despite its colossal financial resources—the company brought in $444 billion in revenue last year[6]—it’s habitually dipped into public coffers to finance its expansion into almost every corner of the United States.[7] In the absence of centralized information or databases on economic subsidies, Good Jobs First, an economic policy and research non-profit, has done extensive research to document the subsidies Walmart has received, and has published the data on Walmart Subsidy Watch. Here’s what GJF uncovered in Iowa.

Taxpayer healthcare costs

Tens of thousands of Walmart associates and their families qualify for Medicaid and other publicly subsidized care. Indeed, according to data compiled by Good Jobs First, in 22 of 24 states which have disclosed information, Walmart has the largest number of employees or dependents on the public rolls of any employer.[8]

In Iowa: The Associated Press reported in March 2005 that Walmart had the highest number of employees enrolled in Medicaid in the state, according to a list from the Iowa Department of Human Services. Walmart had 845 associates on Medicaid, more than twice the number of the Medicaid enrollees at the second-ranked employer.[9]



More Walmart stores coming to Iowa

Here’s a list of Walmart stores planned or rumored to be opening in Iowa:[10]

  • Centreville: Supercenter, Highway 5
  • Council Bluffs: Supercenter, Nash Blvd. and N. 16th St.



[3] The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor Markets. December, 2006. David Neumark, Junfu Zhang, Stephen Ciccarella.

[4] These numbers are estimates. To arrive at these estimates, we used the report by the Economic Policy Institute that estimated U.S. jobs lost to China by state from 2001-2008.  We then multiplied that number by 9.3%, which is the proportion of the overall U.S.-China trade deficit that EPI estimated to be tied to Walmart.  We arrived at that number from this study.

[5] As measured by revenue; “Fortune Global 500 2011: The World’s Biggest Companies – Wal-Mart Stores,”

[6] “Walmart reports Q4 EPS from continuing operations of $1.51; Walmart U.S. delivers positive traffic and positive comp sales in Q4,” press release dated February 21, 2012,

[7] “Shopping for Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth,” by Philip Mattera and Anna Purinton, Good Jobs First, May 2004.

[8] “Disclosures of Employers Whose Workers and Their Dependents are Using State Health Insurance Programs,” Good Jobs First report, version dated January 18, 2012.

[9] “Disclosures of Employers Whose Workers and Their Dependents are Using State Health Insurance Programs,” Good Jobs First report, version dated January 18, 2012.

[10] Information on planned or rumored stores collected by Making Change at Walmart.