Ben Stiller, Michael Jordan and Smokey Robinson were among the celebrities to make presumably undiscounted appearances on stage at Wal-Mart's annual meeting last week.
News Cut notes that Wal-Mart plans to add 22,000 new jobs and then leaves it to its commenters to parse whether that's actually good news. One reader asks:
According to a 2006 Washington state study, about 23% of the 16,000 Wal-Mart employees in Washington received state-subsidized coverage through Medicaid or the state's Basic Health Plan in 2004. (The company said the study data was misleading because it had since improved its employee health benefits.)
In all 25 states that have released such data, Wal-Mart heads the list of companies with the most employees and dependents enrolled in state-funded health care programs. (Wal-Mart was also the largest employer in two of the states, but ranked among the top 10 in only one other.)
In Massachusetts, a recent report says more than 40% of state's Wal-Mart workforce uses state-funded health care. Wal-Mart does better in its home state, where many of its 45,106 employees have headquarters jobs. Just under 9% of its Arkansas employees are on public assistance.
Wal-Mart says "The average wage for regular, full-time hourly associates in Minnesota is $11.59 per hour." But it gives no indication how many of the 20,746 it employs in the state fall in that category — or that the average pay for 52 weeks of full-time work amounts to shade over $24,000, before deductions for the employee health plan.
So let's take a generous but educated guess that 30%, or 6,600, of those 22,000 new workers will have state-subsidized health care.
But it's not as bad as it sounds. After all, how many of those Wal-Wart recruits already depend on public health subsidies?