Sunday, November 06, 2005
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest employer, asked nine economists to assess its effect on the economy. Today, at a conference organized by the company, they'll tell Wal-Mart that it's far from an exemplary employer. Wal-Mart causes wages to fall for workers in towns where it operates, depresses pay for unskilled laborers and increases Medicaid costs, according to economists who will present their findings at today's meeting in Washington. ``Residents of a local labor market do indeed earn less following the opening of Wal-Mart stores,'' said David Neumark, an economist with the Public Policy Institute of California, who will speak at the forum. The conference, billed as ``An In-Depth Look at Wal-Mart and Society,'' is part of the company's campaign to address criticism of the wages, health care benefits, and workplace policies for its 1.2 million employees. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is sponsoring the forum to examine its effect on jobs, inflation and income growth.