The Walmart 1 Percent in Tennessee


  • Former Walmart CEO and current Walmart Board of Directors member Lee Scott is on the Board of Directors of Pilot Travel Centers: 5508 Lonas Dr., Knoxville, TN 37909; (800) 562-6210



The Walmart 1 Percent’s Influence in Tennessee Politics

The Walton family in politics

The Waltons contributed $22,000 to candidates for Congress from Tennessee between the 1990 election cycle and 2010. About 73% went to Republicans.[1]

Walmart in politics

The Walmart PAC spent $209,250 on Congressional candidates from the state over the same time period. At the state level, Walmart spent $65,250 on Tennessee politics between 2003 and 2010.[2]



Walmart’s Impact on Tennessee’s Employment Picture

Impact of Walmart stores on retail and other jobs

Based on data available through Walmart’s website, there were 40,051 Walmart associates in Tennessee 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 Tennessee, there would be an additional 16,020 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 Tennessee lost an estimated 4,780 jobs as a result of Walmart’s practice of sourcing heavily from China.[4]



Walmart’s Cost to Tennessee 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 Tennessee:

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 Tennessee: Almost a quarter of Walmart associates in Tennessee were enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, according to a January 2005 survey requested by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.[9]



More Walmart stores coming to Tennessee

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

  • Fairview: Supercenter
  • Florence: Supercenter, Cloverdale Rd. north of Cox Creek Pkwy.
  • Knoxville: Supercenter, near UT campus, between Volunteer Blvd. and Alcoa Hwy.
  • Nashville: Supercenter, Old Expo Design Center across from 100 Oaks Mall


[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.