A new report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), commissioned by Bernie Sanders, shows that corporations are soaking up profits—while paying workers so little they depend on government assistance to survive.
The report analyzed data from agencies administering Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps”) across different states. For all agencies, Walmart was in the top four employers of Medicaid enrollees and SNAP beneficiaries, while McDonald’s was in the top five for of the agencies.
Other major retailers and fast-food companies were found to be among the most common employers of workers receiving Medicaid and SNAP, including Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Target, Amazon, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walgreens and CVS. Rideshare service Uber — which recently spent millions of dollars successfully defeating a California law that would have made its drivers eligible for basic worker protections and benefits — was also ranked among the top employers of workers on public assistance.
The new GAO report echoes the conclusions of similar studies by the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center in and , which found that U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing large corporations to the tune of $ billion per year in the form of public assistance programs to support their low-wage employees.
At a time when huge corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s are making billions in profits and giving their CEOs tens of millions of dollars a year, they’re relying on corporate welfare from the federal government by paying their workers starvation wages,” Sanders said of the report. That is morally obscene.” Sanders added, It is time for the owners of Walmart, McDonald’s and other large corporations to get off of welfare and pay their workers a living wage.”
The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $. an hour since . While a majority of states have raised their respective minimum wages above the federal floor in the past decade, states have not. Thanks to union-driven campaigns like the Fight for $ and United for Respect (formerly OUR Walmart), eight states and multiple cities have enacted gradual increases to a $-per-hour minimum wage in recent years. And on November , voters in Florida overwhelmingly approved a measure to raise their state’s hourly minimum wage to $ by .
In Georgia — where voters will soon determine the short-term fate of the $ federal minimum wage — the official state minimum wage is a mere $ . an hour, with employers only required to pay $. because of the federal legislation passed over a decade ago. According to the new GAO report, over , working adults in Georgia depend on SNAP benefits and over , rely on Medicaid.
The rallying cry of fast-food and retail workers in recent years has been “$ and a union.” Because they are organized and can bargain with their employers, union workers on average earn higher wages and have greater benefits than their nonunion counterparts.
Food insecurity has more than doubled from . percent of all U.S. households before the pandemic to percent, and at least million more Americans have fallen into poverty since May. More than million U.S. workers and their family members have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance in the midst of the pandemic.
No one in this country should live in poverty. No one should go hungry. No one should be unable to get the medical care they need,” Sanders said.