The Walmart 1 Percent in Wisconsin

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The Walmart 1 Percent’s Influence in Wisconsin Politics

The Walton family in politics

The Waltons have been extremely active in Wisconsin politics in recent years, despite the fact that none of them lives there. Several Waltons were among the biggest contributors in the 2010 elections that propelled Governor Scott Walker into office and ushered in a new round of union busting legislation. They spent $8,900 on candidates for Congress from the state between the 1990 cycle and 2010, with most of it going to Republicans. But they’ve spent over $220,000 in state-level races over that time period, more than half of which was spent just in the 2008 and 2010 elections.[1]

Walmart in politics

The Walmart PAC spent $116,750 on Congressional candidates from Wisconsin between the 1990 cycle and 2010, with 60% of it going to Republicans. At the state level, Walmart spent $166,142 on Wisconsin politics between 2003 and 2010, with 83% of that going to Republican candidates or party committees.[2]



Walmart’s Impact on Wisconsin’s Employment Picture

Impact of Walmart stores on retail and other jobs

Based on data available through Walmart’s website, there were 29,514 Walmart associates in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin, there would be an additional 11,806 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 Wisconsin lost an estimated 4,864 jobs as a result of Walmart’s practice of sourcing heavily from China.[4]



Walmart’s Cost to Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin.

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 Wisconsin: According to June 2007 data from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, Walmart was the employer with the largest number of employees and employees’ dependents enrolled in BadgerCare, the publicly-funded healthcare program for low-income families. Walmart had 897 employees and 776 of their dependents enrolled, and the state estimated that their care cost Wisconsin taxpayers $3.7 million a year.[9]



More Walmart stores coming to Wisconsin

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

  • Elmwood Park: Neighborhood Market, Lathrop and Durand Aves.  (Cancelled!)
  • Green Bay: Downtown
  • Greendale: Supercenter, S. 76th St.
  • Kaukauna: Fox Valley Greyhound Park
  • Kenosha: Neighborhood Market, 52nd St.
  • Menomonee Falls: Neighborhood Market, Pilgrim Rd. and Main St.
  • Milwaukee: Supercenter, 10332 Silver Spring Dr.
  • Milwaukee: Supercenter, 10600 W. Layton Ave.
  • Milwaukee: Neighborhood Market, S. 70th and Main
  • Mt. Pleasant: Neighborhood Market, Washington Ave.
  • Racine (Caledonia): Supercenter, N. Green Bay Rd. and 4 Mile Rd. (Cancelled!)
  • Racine (Caledonia): Hwy. 31 and 4 Mile Rd. (Cancelled!)

[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, our faithful readers, and news reports (where hyperlinked)