Monday, July 2, 2012

Yes, wages at Wal-mart are awful.

My colleague Marlon Boarnet and co-authors show that they are: in the Bay Area, Wal-mart grocery workers' total compensation is a little over half the compensation of unionized workers (Table 4).  Wal-mart also initially offers grocery costs that are between 8 and 20 percent lower than the stores with which they compete, and lead other stores to reduce their prices by 5 to 13 percent (Table 2).

I am prepared to accept the argument that higher wages are more important than lower grocery prices, although it is not an overwhelming argument to me.  Nevertheless, there are good reason reasons not to like Wal-mart (which is one of the reasons I don't shop there).

On the other hand, it makes no sense to me to bundle a bunch of weak arguments with a strong one, and yet that is what anti-Wal-mart activists often do.  And zoning should be zoning--if one entity has the right to use land for a particular use, others should as well, whether they are liked or not.