The car passes a Walmart store in Washington, DC, on August 18, 2020.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
The question of how much taxpayers contribute to maintaining a basic standard of living for employees at some of the nation’s largest low-wage companies has long been a flashpoint in debates over minimum wage legislation and ongoing efforts to unify these sectors.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Commissioned the study, which was released Wednesday by the congressional oversight body. The Washington Post is the first to report the data. Sanders, who is running for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, is a leading progressive lawmaker and a consistent critic of companies.
GAO analyzed February data from the Medicaid agency in six states and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – known as SNAP, or food stamps – agencies in nine states.
Walmart is the top company registering Medicaid in the three states and one of the top four companies in the remaining three states. The retailer is the top employer of SNAP recipients in the five states and one of the top four employers in the remaining four states.
McDonald’s is among the top five employers of Medicaid registrants in five of the six states and SNAP recipients in eight of the nine states.
About 70% of the 21 million federal aid recipients are employed full-time, the report found.
“US taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize some of America’s largest and most profitable companies,” Sanders said in a statement late Wednesday. “It’s time for the owners of Walmart, McDonald’s, and other large corporations to get out of the way and pay their workers a living wage.”
McDonald’s USA said in a statement that the company believed data from the report was taken out of context and framed in a misleading way, arguing that McDonald’s and Walmart were some of the largest companies in the country.
“The average starting wage at a US company-owned restaurant is more than $ 10 per hour and exceeds the federal minimum wage. McDonald’s believes elected leaders have a responsibility to set, debate and change mandated minimum wages and do not lobby or participate in any activity that is mandated. against raising the minimum, “the company said in a statement.
McDonald’s announced that last March it will no longer lobby for minimum wage increases. CEO Chris Kempczinski told CNBC that November companies will be open to discussing minimum wages when he asked Congress to pass another one Covid-19 stimulus package.
“If it weren’t for the job access that Walmart and other companies provide, more people would rely on government assistance,” Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said in a statement. “We support efforts to raise the minimum wage while we continue to invest in our partners.”
The GAO report came later Florida chooses to increase its minimum wage over the next six years up to $ 15 per hour. It is the eighth state to agree a minimum wage of $ 15 per hour and the second most populous state to do so.
President-elect Joe Biden supports a $ 15 federal minimum wage. The federal minimum rate has remained at $ 7.25 an hour for more than a decade.
Earlier this year, Costco, Amazon and Target raise their minimum wages to $ 15 per hour. On Wednesday, Starbucks announced it would raise salaries for his barista.
The sun sets over a McDonald’s store on October 21, 2019 in Edgewater, New Jersey.
Got Betancur | Corbis News | Getty Images
In the past, companies like McDonalds and Walmart have responded to pressure on lawmakers to pass mandatory minimum wage laws with advertising campaigns touting their jobs as entry-level, and therefore never intended to provide their only source of income. for a family.
McDonald’s launched a memorable marketing campaign in 2016 that billed itself as America’s “best first job” and advised that teens and young adults make up the bulk of its workforce.
But many proponents of the mandatory minimum wage see McDonald’s advertisements as an attempt to ignore the reality that millions of McDonald’s workers struggle to support families on the salaries the company pays.
– CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed reporting.