A new report released Friday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office commissioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders, revealed that employees of Walmart and McDonald’s are the highest number of workers who receive aid from federal assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid.
The Watchdog said they analyzed data from the Census Bureau, and from 15 state agencies across 11 states and found that “millions” of full-time workers rely on government to feed themselves. The report focused on Medicaid benefits and those who receive food stamps – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
The Government Accountability Office undertook the study to answer questions about the relationship between employers and the federal assistance programs. Washington Post was the first to publish the report.
Walmart ranked among the top four largest employees who receive food stamps and Medicaid benefits in the states whose data was analyzed. An estimated 14,500 workers of the retail giant received food stamps, according to the report.
The 9 states that responded about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits were Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.
McDonald’s was listed in the top five of the 9 states studied and was said to employ nearly 8,800 workers who received SNAP assistance during the period studied.
In six states that reported Medicaid enrollees, Walmart again topped the list, with 10,350 employees, followed by McDonald’s with 4,600, according to the report.
The next big corporations with large number of workers receiving federal aid include Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Amazon, Burger King and FedEx, the GAO found. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“Most working adults in the programs worked for private-sector employers concentrated in certain industries, including restaurants, department stores, and grocery stores,” the GAO’s report said.
“These giant corporations pay starvation wages”, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted, listing Walmart, McDonald’s, Dollar Tree, Uber, Burger King, FedEx, and Wendy’s.
“This is what a rigged economy is about,” the Vermont senator wrote. “We need a $15 living wage and Medicare for All.”
These giant corporations pay starvation wages—wages so low their workers have to rely on Medicaid and food stamps to survive:
This is what a rigged economy is about. We need a $15 living wage and Medicare for All. https://t.co/GFzfK9ERae
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 18, 2020
Walmart and McDonald’s are among the biggest and most profitable corporations in the United States, as well as in the states included in the report.
In defense, a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement;
“If not for the employment access Walmart and other companies provide, many more people would be dependent on government assistance”.
“A small percentage of our workforce comes to us on public assistance, and we remove employment barriers and create opportunities for individuals that too many overlook.”
“Walmart has invested more than $5 billion in increased pay, expanded health benefits, and a debt-free college program over the past five years and our starting rate is more than 50% higher than the federal minimum wage, which Washington hasn’t changed in more than a decade. We support efforts to raise the minimum wage while we continue to make investments in our associates,” the spokesperson added.
McDonald’s USA noted “the average starting wage at U.S. corporate-owned restaurants is over $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 does not lobby against or participate in any activities opposing raising the minimum wage,” the company said in a statement.
“McDonald’s and franchisees are proud to provide employment, education and skills development opportunities for more than 800,000 crew members across 14,000 restaurants, including providing access to academic advice and degree completion programs, reducing barriers to unemployment and helping 2 million young people develop life skills through our Youth Opportunity Initiative,” the company added.
In recent years, Senator Sanders has been pushing for the implementation of a $15 federal minimum wage. During campaign, President-elect Joe Biden signaled his intention to support the proposed wage increase.
Senator Sanders accused the big corporations of relying on “corporate welfare from the federal government by paying their workers starvation wages.”
“That is morally obscene,” he said in a statement to The Post. “U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America.”