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Walmart Paid Its People More to Get Cleaner Stores and Higher Sales (nytimes.com)
219 points by finid on Oct 15, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 241 comments



Another Wally post that gets many comments. Perhaps I am the only HN poster with actual working experience at wally - in the retail area too. So let me react to others' posts.

The Walmart worker image I seem to read by comments are the sales floor and cashier type associate. Yes, there are Some that you wonder if they can be employed elsewhere. But that is not even close to a majority at the store I know about.

Can a Walmart worker work at a Starbucks? Of course!! Can a Starbucks worker work at Wal-Mart? Sure. But retail sucks at times and I would bet more Starbucks -> Wally failures than the other way around.

Many wally workers have been there decades. They earn 50 -125% more than the $10/hr publicised. First level managers Get the 48k required to avoid overtime when the new law takes effect.

Since the new wage hike in my store there has not been any "ventilation" of out with the old and in with better employees. Its really really hard to hire anybody now. Heartbeat? You are hired.

Promotions come at such a rapid pace it is truly wonderful to see. 20 year old given 4 Promotions in 18 months to become assist the manager at 48k. It happens. On another site Many posts about how rapidly promotions occur. Many store managers who make 130-250+ and more started out selling dirt alongside those "can't be employeed elsewhere" associates. In many cases it only takes 10 years to get to that level.

Retail is its own form of servitude. It's hard. Takes work and a special person to succeed. Once off the clock you can not work.

The "$10" pay more to employees was a brilliant move. The press ate it.

I'll finish by my own transformation. I used to think Wally workers were in a class of their own. I worked at Costco too. There is no difference. There are substantially fewer Costcos than Wally. And Costco has much less need for employees. So you don't see the "can't work anywhere else" types.


I've worked at Walmart as recently as a month or so ago and, after being fired, I now work at Target - please reserve judgement for one of America's lost boys. I only worked there for a short time and the fire came from not showing up to work, so I'm not holding any grudge.

This store was in the Bay Area. I'd say there were quite a few of the types that were nearly unemployable, including new hires. This is probably due to the fact that the job is nearly unworkable. One time I mentioned the fact that I was tired to a woman who had been with the company for 15 years, she said 'Working at Walmart will do that to you'. I don't think it takes a 'special type of person' to succeed at working there, and I'm not sure I'd call it succeeding. I only worked on weekends so my perspective may be skewed but it felt like doing a wave of work, consisting mostly of putting things back to there proper place, only to come back tomorrow and do the same thing with no end in sight. This may be a phenomenon of employment at large, I don't know.

I'll say that my experience with Target astounds me how Target is apparently so much less popular than Walmart, and for the reasons that this article was trying to push. The training software with Walmart felt very cheap,and something to be rushed through (or in my case something to be milked for a week while I read a book on my phone). Target's training is done in small groups by team leads. I worked at Walmart for almost two months and, despite a few attempts at trying, I was never trained in finding items in the storage room (I was actually coached to say 'we're out of that item'). I was trained in this after working at Target for a few days. Not only that, but there's the fact that business management software is much more deeply embedded into the average Target employee's workday. It makes for a better store. More on 'the investments', some Walmart employee's get 10% off select items in the store. All Target employees get 10% off everything in the store (except produce, which is an extra 10% for a total of 20).

Anyway, I'm just chipping in.


At least when I worked there, stock was never in the "store room". The back was merely for stock that they hadn't got around to unpacking yet. The company was legendary for logistics in the 90s and early 2000s. Part of that came from having most stock in one of two states: In transit, or on the shelves. Stock in the back is a cost center.

Most stores do not operate this way, their Just In Time delivery system isn't up to the task. And so customers used to this inefficiency liked to ask you to check. They don't really want an explanation on JIT or walmarts inventory management so pretending to check was best for all involved.


I worked at target too. Conclusion? Retail sucks.

I think the difference for me between the two is the opposite of yours. I leave it to different store management and cultures. The statement "each store is different." is very true


> it felt like doing a wave of work, consisting mostly of putting things back to there proper place, only to come back tomorrow and do the same thing with no end in sight. This may be a phenomenon of employment at large, I don't know.

I've been in IT Engineering / SRE for over 10 years now and you just described 80% of my days.


Target (and Lowe's) were hacked for credit cards (but not Walmart) because they did not update POS software to newer OS as recommended by the manufacturer, Microsoft.

So, glad to see Target spends money training employees, for it didn't spend the money for upgrading their POS terminal software (and apparently Walmart has).


Target didn't get hacked for not having updated software. They were hacked because an HVAC contractor was hacked to get the HVAC system credentials and it wasn't properly segregated from the same network as the POS terminals. They even had FireEye installed and detected the exfiltration malware [0], but for some reason ignored the alarms.

[0] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-03-13/target-mis...


I used to work as a consultant to a subsidiary of one of the largest software security firms. The security hole exploited by the hackers was essentially closed by Windows 7 embedded in 2010. Target was running Windows XPe (embedded).

I had read the Bloomberg article when it came out with some interest, because the reason Target was hacked was simply because they did not upgrade the POS OS as recommended and it was for this reason that Target was hacked.

"Both Home Depot and Target Corp. (TGT) -- whose registers were compromised last December -- appear to have fallen victim to a decade-old exploit of Windows XPe.

What's more, these losses -- which may total as many as 100 million customer credit and debit card numbers -- could have likely been prevented by simply paying to upgrade to a more modern Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) operating system, such as Windows 7 for Embedded Systems." [1]

Each version of Windows has security upgrades (sometimes using new features of Intel CPU hardware) that previous versions of Windows don't implement, even with security updates.

Many of these security hacks happen because firms that use computers refuse to pay for proper security software, perform recommended upgrades and to hire very competent people to work with their systems. Of course, the systems can still be hacked, but there are easier systems to exploit and the attacks can be caught earlier and with limited consequences.

[1] http://www.dailytech.com/Appalling+Negligence+DecadeOld+Wind...


"Perhaps I am the only HN poster with actual working experience at wally"

Nope. I'm sure there are others. I worked at Walmart for a bit making $7/hour. Stocking and other misc things, though never a cashier. When min wage was like $5.15 or $6.15. A lot has changed since then though. I now have a masters in CS and work at Microsoft.


Different path for me

Cps degree (pre Microsoft): work (overpaid) at large monopoly until cell phone penetration was 35% and displaced.


Costco pays much better than Wal-Mart.[1] "(Costco) pays workers an average of $20.89 an hour, compared with Wal-Mart's average hourly wage of $11.83." There's an article in Forbes on why Wal-Mart shouldn't raise wages to Costco levels.

Costco has some advantages which don't involve hammering the employees. Their stores are plain warehouses. They only sell in bulk. They have a membership system, which not only encourages repeat visits, but cuts shoplifting way down. (Few shoplifters will come in, be photographed, and buy a Costco membership.)

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/why-walmart-cant-pay-costco-w...


The most convincing argument I read about why Walmart pays their employees less other than the fact that they're greedy bastards is in [1].

"Costco has a tiny number of SKUs in a huge store -- and consequently, has half as many employees per square foot of store. Their model is less labor intensive, which is to say, it has higher labor productivity. Which makes it unsurprising that they pay their employees more."

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2013-08-27/why-walma...


Walmart and Costco have different business models, so it's a little unfair to compare them. (From the same article [1].) A better comparison may be Walmart vs. Target or Walmart vs. Zellers.

Also, I would be very curious to see where the bulk of Walmart's SKUs are. I would expect a lot of them come from their large array of clothing. (every different size/color has its own SKU)

"Wal-Mart's customers expect a very broad array of goods, because they're a department store, not a specialty retailer; lots of people rely on Wal-Mart for their regular weekly shopping. The retailer has tried to cut the number of SKUs it carries, but ended up having to put them back, because it cost them in complaints, and sales."

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2013-08-27/why-walma...


So explain Sam's Club (Walmart's version of Costco). They have the exact same business model as Costco, but pay their employees Walmart wages.


Sam's Club has lower profit margins than Costco [1] and roughly 50% more SKUs [2]. Both of which would push labor productivity lower.

[1] "Walmart figures include Sam's Club, which despite having more stores, is much less profitable than Costco."

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2013-08-27/why-walma...

[2] See the graph

https://www.kriq.com/ContentIndex/ArticleDetails.aspx?key=Bl...


The number of SKUs is irrelevant. The number of employees are what matter if we're talking about salaries. Having more SKUs doesn't push labor productivity lower, having more SKUs WITH more employees would push labor productivity lower. If they're doing it with the same or fewer employees it would be the exact opposite.

As for the stores being less profitable, I would imagine it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. They pay the vast majority of their employees welfare-inducing wages which is an instant turnoff to anyone in the middle class who actually cares about companies taking care of their employees.


Not sure how this fits in, but my two stints at Costco each had high layoff and rehire rates. Getting the "full time Costco " job was desired but hard. I never knew how or why so many came back after post Christmas layoff and could survive.

I do not believe from my Wally experience I ever hear of "temporary" hires that really get termed. If you are doing the job well you stay if you want


That's been my experience in almost every job I've worked, from McDonald's to Big Telecom. If you impress people they'll bend whatever rules they have to bend to make sure you stay.


Costco employees check all customers leaving the store to match goods with receipts.


AFAIK this is more about making sure people have what they paid for rather than checking for shoplifting.


This is the optimist's view; in fact, I've never considered this in the 10+ years I've shopped at Sam's Club/Costco.

They just briefly skim over the receipt -- until they hit a more expensive purchase, so your view would make sense (the opposite is not possible for shoplifting).


They're looking at the "Items Sold" number, and comparing that to the count of items in the cart. They may also be looking specifically for expensive items, to make sure there wasn't a substitution made.


In my experience they do check to see if you have items that are likely to be forgotten because they have to be brought from the wire cage such as stamps and gift cards.


I doubt that. They've been checking receipts since long before gift cards were a thing.


Sam's Club and Makro do this in Brazil. All items ate checked, not just the expansive ones. Costumers don't really like it, at least the firsts times, then get used, 'cause you know, we do know some Brazilians.


Sam's does this in the US, too.


The issue isn't really the wages.

You get poor quality workers when you make the majority of them have to work a second job, since you don't give them full time hours or benefits. Retail often can have 100% turnover or more in the span of a year because of this. The average retail job works their employees part time, from 15 or less hours to near full time, on a schedule which changes from week to week. Sometimes even keyholding staff are worked like this.

You don't create employees loyal to your store when you do this, and especially if they also have to work an additional 5 or more hour shift before showing up at your job. Then you also get into tiny payroll budgets overall, preventing the store from hiring enough people to meet needs. So your 15 an hour worker can't clean the store, because he is on register all day, and he can't work extra hours because there is no budget. Or he does work them, but he has to take the next day off because he can't go over his schedule.

These things among others create a culture where all you can do is punch in, survive the shift, and go home. You can't do a good job because the district managers don't want you to do a good job. they want you to meet their metrics, and most of it is about money and budget. They don't care much about clean stores, since they visit your store maybe once every few months. They do care that you spend more than your payroll, no matter whether you needed to or not.

Honestly, retail sucks.


This.

But I used to brush all Walmart workers with the same crusty paint brush (bought at Wally).

Sure, i'd rather still be earning 6 figures. But when we did we all knew it could not last. What do you do? Leave early when the golden handcuffs are attached?

Retail is my second job. What you describe is very spot on true.

Yet probably the surprisingly largest difference is my lack of awareness prior to Wally that people did not have a supportive and wealthy home life. My retail peers suffer from lives I could not even imagine. Most of this group have no possible way of seeing parent(s) show them how to have a professional life. To excel. To build wealth. To dream big. That's the difference. Where my retail peers come from. Just as my sister in law would not be seen in a Walmart, my fellow co workers don't like to shop at the mall and enter macys or Lord and Taylor. Sears is ok.


That's not revolutionary at all, despite what the New York Times claims. This was done, long, long ago already by Henry Ford (double the going wage for his workers):

http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2014/01/03/history/post-p...


From the article:

"Higher wages were necessary, Ford realized, to retain workers who could handle the pressure and the monotony of his assembly line."

So in Ford's case, he was simply paying the going rate. Supply and demand. The lower wage wasn't enough to keep the workers he needed in his revolutionary assembly line. People spin this all the time to say things like: "He increased the wage so his workers could afford to buy his cars" But if it were as simple as that, he could have tripled or quadrupled their wages so they would buy even more or at a quicker rate.


Not quite. What Ford realized was that workers were not simply replaceable cogs, but that each was on a spectrum of skills, experience, etc.

He could have, like his competitors, continued to pay very little and gotten mostly the low-end quality workers. He'd have continued to make cars, but probably of lesser quality. He chose to pay the going rate for high quality workers.


This is known as the "Efficiency wage" theory. Megan McArdle has written a number of posts about where it does and does not make sense. Her conclusion (and I agree) is that generally speaking, "WalMart worker"* isn't beholden to efficiency wages.

It's also worth mentioning that a side effect of efficiency wages is more unemployment. Paying more results in a better class of applicant, meaning that people who would normally use WalMart as the bottom rung of their career ladder are shut out.

*Yes, Costco can do it, but Costco also has a very different business model.


> It's also worth mentioning that a side effect of efficiency wages is more unemployment. Paying more results in a better class of applicant, meaning that people who would normally use WalMart as the bottom rung of their career ladder are shut out.

This assumes that workers are of a fixed quality. I know I worked harder for $10/hour than I did for $7.25. Higher pay means stronger incentives to do well and less stress from poverty.


Certainly, people will work harder if you pay them more, you won't just get better people.

However:

Employers will have to hire fewer workers because their workers are more productive

More people will be interested in the jobs, increasing employee competition

Since people vary, some people's increase in productivity will be insufficient to cover the increase of wages

The end result it seems is that getting a job is made harder. This is not to say that increased wages are bad, they are great.


"getting a job is made harder" isn't a problem, when the the people are getting better at getting a job.

"increase in productivity will be insufficient to cover the increase of wages" is only true if the company isn't turning a profit or paying high salary to managers. This is relevant for some small businesses and bankruptcy-threatened large business, but not for the largest players in the economy, like Walmart.


1) Given that there are fewer jobs available, and more people seeking those jobs, its simply absurd to think that people are just going to get better at getting those jobs to make up for it.

2) Whether the company is turning or a profit or paying a high salary is completely irreleavent. The question is whether or not you are productive enough that hiring you makes the company more money then they pay you.


There aren't fewer jobs available. US full-time job openings are at/near all-time highs and have been for a while now.


Sure. But I was specifically speaking about these higher-paying jobs at Wal-Mart. The fewer jobs at Wal-Mart are more then offset by increased jobs elsewhere.


> This assumes that workers are of a fixed quality. I know I worked harder for $10/hour than I did for $7.25.

Efficiency wage theory definitely doesn't assume that. In fact, a big part of the theory revolves around your existing workers becoming more productive.

Even if you assume your applicant pool stays the same, you would see less turnover with efficient wages—and hence fewer job openings.


> Paying more results in a better class of applicant

In higher populated areas, yes.

In lower populated rural/areas, not necessarily. In fact, by raising wages in rural areas, additional money coming in from income taxes could be funneled into infrastructure, poorly-funded schools, and law enforcement. This would in theory help produce new areas of innovation and growth which in turn help provide more tax revenue for the state and country. It could also bring more people out of poverty, reduce crime and violence, and help to shutdown meth labs which are more common in rural areas.

I think there are some good arguments against raising wages of workers, like much higher wage workers already making enough to be so comfortable as to not require more (depending on how they pay their employees if they are a small business), or to things such as some cases showing that raising minimum wage causes inflation which causes the quality of life of everyone over the minimum wage to go down, such as: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0419-goldberg-min...

However, for most of those reading HN, salary raises have more to do with being competitive, in which case paying more for a better applicant is a good thing.


The post didn't argue that raising wages of workers was bad, it argued that raising the wages of workers produces unemployment which you didn't address at all.


The point he failed to make was that finding employees in a rural area is a "near zero" sum game.

When a large employer raises its wage a big chunk of people who work a few hours at a second job stop working that second job.


> When a large employer raises its wage a big chunk of people who work a few hours at a second job stop working that second job.

With the U.S. underemployment rate at 12.9%, having additional jobs available for people to take shouldn't be a bad thing:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/205240/us-underemploymen...


It's also worth mentioning that a side effect of efficiency wages is more unemployment. Paying more results in a better class of applicant, meaning that people who would normally use WalMart as the bottom rung of their career ladder are shut out.

Citation wanted. It really doesn't make sense. Sure, a different class of applicants may fill those higher paying positions, but either those people weren't employed to begin with, which contradicts your point, or they had to leave other jobs to apply for this one, creating open positions where they left, which results in overall employment staying the same.


I think you are missing a person in your analasys.

In scenario 1, Person A works for Wal-Mart and Person B works elsewhere.

In scenario 2, Person A has no job, and Person B works at Walmart, and Person's B previous position is unfilled.


Yes, in scenario 2 one person is without a job and one job is without a person. You'll never guess what happens next!


You are assuming that Person A is capable of taking the job that Person B vacated. That may or may not be the case. Inevitably, there will be come cases where Person A isn't suitable for the position.


You do realize that we are not talking about three specific persons, right? I will grant you that at any given time there are people who are unemployed even when there is demand for labor, because for some reason or other they do not fit the available positions, right at that moment. Being unskilled is certainly a factor when it comes to that. But I remain highly skeptical of the mechanism described by the grandparent. If wages were to increase at e.g. Walmart and grandparent was right, it would mean that skilled people would leave the jobs they are already doing to come to Walmart to work. Now, maybe the people laid off at Walmart don't have the skills to fill these now vacant positions, but presumably they must still be filled somehow. Which means that either the employers must accept less skilled labor to do the same job or they have to do what Walmart did, and offer higher pay to attract the right workers.

I will also grant that as wages rise, certain jobs simply cease to exist, because it becomes uneconomical to pay anyone to do them. Being from Denmark where wages are very high, I was astounded to be greeted by not fewer than ten clerks in a small, mostly empty Swatch store I visited in Beijing. To have that much staff to do mostly nothing can only happen where wages are extremely low. If wages were to rise, one by one those clerks would probably be laid off. But not because a more skilled person would claim their position, but simply because it would become too expensive to pay any person to do that job given the value it creates.


I don't think you can assume that the position will be filled. The position may be no longer be economically viable at higher wage rates or lower skill levels and thus be eliminated.

However, there are some additional factors that complicate this picture. If there are fewer unskilled jobs, people will adjust by working to become more skilled. If people have higher paying jobs they will spend more, producing more jobs. If there are many unskilled people looking for work, there is incentive for somebody to find a way to make use of that resource.

But really, the only point I sought to make here was that your original comment which didn't look at the non-skilled worker was missing a bit part of the equation, and so its logic didn't work.


I think we'll keep forgetting, and rediscovering Fordism for many years to come, unfortunately.


Same with Drucker, Deming, and other great management thinkers of the 20th century who repeated similar mantras: respect your people, build good systems, and you have a better chance of succeeding.

We're doomed to repeat ourselves, as understanding complexity is not an easy thing to do, and it takes significant time, experience, and effort to unlearn your assumptions and learn to get closer to reality.


respect your people

Ford created a morality department and forced their workers to follow his views of respectability (eg. prevent their wives from working), and to ask for permission before making large purchases, using investigators which would show up unannounced at their home to check up on their personal life.


That's some nice cherrypicking, but the morality department also prevented domestic violence and supported youth education.

Not only that, but after receiving some criticism on the issue, Ford realized his mistake and closed down the department saying that it wasn't his job to intervene in the lives of workers.


Cherry-picking is the constant reference to the higher wages, without mentioning the heavy strings that came attached. That it also had some positive effects doesn't diminish my point. Also, from what I can tell, when the department was winded down the salaries weren't higher than the market average.

There's also the lovely Ford Hunger March: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Hunger_March


You can cherry pick good qualities from past companies to emulate. That's what people are doing here. They aren't saying "Do everything exactly like Henry Ford." They are saying "Pay your workers like Henry Ford."

On worker pay, Ford is a good model to emulate.


I was originally replying to a user that mentioned how Ford et all respected their workers, not just paid more.

Also, I'm not sure I agree that Ford did pay more, since the string attached mean the jobs are different. If some company offered me 5% over my salary but required me to be on-call, I'd say they would actually be paying me less.


Ha! Sounds like Ross Perot! That guy hired people to go through his own employees' garbage... And would show up himself unannounced at odd hours...


Source?


while increased wages were fine, Ford also attempted selling automobiles at a loss to the company in order to proliferate the number of Ford's on the road. Ford was sued by his shareholder's, Ford lost having been in breach of his duty to the shareholders.

Specifically, "the Michigan Supreme Court held that Henry Ford had to operate the Ford Motor Company in the interests of its shareholders, rather than in a charitable manner for the benefit of his employees or customers."


Let us not muddy the waters with "Dodge vs. Ford" nonsense. Not only was a fair chunk of the original decision reversed on appeal, but it's also fairly well known in business law that "Dodge vs. Ford" is an aberration and not solid precedent.


The law has certainly evolved over time into the business judgment rule...but that only muddys the waters more than the maximization rule from dodge v ford. We see new types of cases from shareholders against boards/officers all the time, including, but not limited to political donations; increasing corporate expensive for more environmentally friendly supply chains; and similar issues of selling product for loss.

These shareholders would likely win all the time under dodge v ford, but now they win some and lose some under business judgment rule based on the taste of the jurisdiction/jury. The reality is case law provides only some clues and the waters are muddy until a given set of facts is tested, and I'm not saying I like the shareholder maximization rule over business judgment but I do prefer bright line rules over balancing acts.


It's really saddening that thinking beyond first order direct effects of something is considered rare or revolutionary.


It's not. Modern journalists report everything breathlessly because buzzfeed ruined the craft in exchange for clicks


Not revolutionary but definitely radical in today's environment.


Not at all. Costco is a place that leaps to my mind.

Also all the large tech players have done this to a large degree compared to non-tech who hire IT folks.


>Also all the large tech players have done this to a large degree

Didn't all the big tech players recently get sued in a class action for colluding to stifle worker's wages specifically by agreeing not to poach each others employees?


That's not because they decided to get together to stop inflating waves that it means the waves were not high in the first place.


Yes, but the fact that they were found guilty of suppressing wages does mean without question that they weren't attempting to consciously pay above market wages to gain some Ford-like benefit as with efficiency wages.


Don't forget: Facebook capitalized on the scheme by offering above-market wagesa and refusing to participate. They poached a lot of good engineers that way.


Costco and Walmart aren't really comparable.

Costco stocks about 4000 usually larger, higher margin items in each of their stores.

Walmart stocks more than 100,000 items in their stores, many of them with very low margins.


Then compare Walmart to Kroger and Publix. Publix charges around 10% more than Walmart per Walmart's ads in exchange for more variety, fast checkout, and high service. Kroger charges a mix of that and Walmart prices on things to attract basically every demographic with similar benefits offered to customers. Both pay workers well with benefits with Publix treating them well. The result is the two collectively sucked $135 billion a year out of Walmart's potential revenue.

So, the highest profit and customer satisfaction companies in Walmart's model & market get there by providing decent pay, benefits, and job security to workers plus treating them better in Publix case. Same pattern emerges in lots of other industries. Probably better than what Walmart was doing. That Walmart keeps copying Kroger and Aldi, but not Publix which is employee-focused ;), shows they know those methods are better. Their management greed and control-freak nature makes them adopt more selectively and slowly.


Kroger and Publix both seem to offer ~50,000 items in their larger stores.

They don't have a full department store and will thus likely have a greater variety of groceries than the Walmart, but they don't have greater variety overall. I would argue that they are a 3rd variety of big box (along with mega stores and club stores), not the same as Walmart.


Grester variety in food. I should've specified that. Also a lot of higher-quality stuff or at least branded as such.

Edit: It should be noted that Kroger is moving that direction with its Fred Meyer-style stores. They're more like Walmarts and Targets. Walmart even converted a failed store into a Walmart once although Im not sure the size of that one. Kroger is opening a Fred-style store close to me with descriptions that sounded like a Walmart. Will be interesting to see if these work and what effect they'll have on profit.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Meyer


I was not comparing Costco v Walmart. I was responding to companies paying high wages in "today's environment"


Right, but it isn't really clear that Costco pay's particularly high wages for the business it is operating.


It's absolutely clear. Their workers are retail employees who provide near substitutive type of labor as wal-mart employees.

They consciously raise wages to retain employees.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-06-06/costco-ceo...


If you want Walmart to match Costco on pay, it has to fire between 1/3 and 1/2 its employee base and replace them with robotics or other automating technology.

Sales per employee

Costco: $550,000

Walmart: $200,000

So now you need to find low skill jobs for a million people, at a time when automation technology is aggressively seeking to (and increasingly able to) wipe out those types of jobs. Oh yeah, and Walmart is very likely in permanent contraction mode already, in which its business will perpetually shrink on a year over year basis ala Sears and other past giants of retail, as Amazon + its far greater automation eats them. Good luck.


That's what Costco says, but I'd be willing to bet that Costco and Walmart employees are quite different. I would bet that Costco employees had more years of education, and more successful (i.e. years not fired for cause) work experience.

When you are willing to pay more, you can purchase higher quality; this is as true for labor as software or electronics.


" I would bet that Costco employees had more years of education, and more successful (i.e. years not fired for cause) work experience."

You'd loose money. I've met many Costco employees. Most were either high-school students or older people without degrees who simply applied for the job or were referred then got through an interview. They care more about whether you'll work hard than anything else. Then they tend to stick around longer since they get paid and treated really well so long as they work hard. Lots of retail workers would like a job at Costco or a similar place but there's just few openings since people don't quit often.


Neither Costco nor Walmart will have anything near the average level of education of the average HN commenter, but I maintain that there is almost certainly a difference


They pull people out of high schools, retail jobs, etc. They wont hire outright idiots but there's no IQ test or anything. Think about it another way: these people are going to Costco because they lack what's needed to get higher-paying jobs requiring degrees or trade schools.

Costco reps themselves already explained the extra pay was just incentive and that they believe in living wages. They also cancelled the ad bugdet specifically to give that money ("6% of revenue") to workers instead thinking good workers are better than advertising for customer retention. So, they consistently believe paying & motivating workers has highest benefits. They also pull from barely-educated sources who probably have above-average intelligence or character but still the common, low-rung pool of labor.


Why does a store selling items in bigger boxes need to pay more?


I don't know that they need to, but I can see where it would be beneficial to pay more if it led to better service of the more affluent customers that frequent the stores.

The point about the large packages and much smaller number of items was more that they need less labor to keep the shelves full.


There's a difference between efficiency wages and paying market rate for a group with specialized skills. Efficiency wages means paying more than market rate in order to get some other benefit such as reduced turnover.

In my opinion, tech companies pay market wages for a rare skill (being good at programming). Some will say this is arrogant, but it's just my honest opinion given my knowledge.


>Also all the large tech players have done this to a large degree

Not through choice. They are trying their hardest to bring down tech wages by:

* lobbying for more immigrants

* funding programs to bring more girls into computer science

* lobbying to put computer science on school curriculums.

* engaging in illegal no-poach agreements.

They are pretty damned determined.


But Costco is a bit radical. I recall several times in the past decade+ reading on Forbes or Bloomberg about their 'less-than favorable'(according to Wall Street) employee compensation practices. This is a big reason why I shop there, my money is my vote.

*I have tried tipping the guys in the garage for tire services & have yet to get anyone to accept, they tell me they are paid well enough and it's against policy, etc... they say that even out at the smoking area, away from the cameras, too.


> Not revolutionary but definitely radical in today's environment.

not even. There are many companies that pay higher-than-category wages just because they want to get the best employees possible. Look at what's happening in the Valley for the more popular companies. They pay more than average and give you tons of benefits on top.


Facebook and Google are not comparable to Walmart. Don't even pretend they are. They supposedly do knowledge work, Walmart relies on unskilled labor - there's not much latitude in stocking shelves, goes traditional wisdom. Challenging that is radical.


Not comparing to Walmart at all. Just addressing the claim that it's "revolutionary to pay more for better workers". It's not.


You are. This news item is about Walmart.


Ahh a fellow smartphone user! I can tell you've been sabatoged by the autocorrect gremlin.

(waves = wages)


Yes, Walmart where a substantial (2-digit) percentage of their workforce requires food-stamps or other government subsidies to get by.

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/15/...

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-w...


In my experience this problem could be alleviated if it were possible for a worker to work a 50-60 hour week at a single job without incurring additional expenses for their employer. The current regulations around that sort of thing make it so the people who want to avoid needing government assistance have to get two jobs and deal with potential scheduling conflicts between them. When I worked minimum wage jobs there were a lot of people who couldn't work out a situation where they could easily get a second job like this partly because they were dependent on slow public transportation. You'd likely have significantly less people on government assistance if they were free to work more


You Americans are so brutal to each other. Instead of trying to address the problem of why someone can't live on a 40-hour week, you just want to remove one of the staple worker-protection laws.

60-hour weeks basically means you live to work. Have you considered that perhaps someone's economic usefulness shouldn't be the only determinate of whether they have to spend essentially their entire lives on Earth just trying to survive?


Part of the problem is that employers like Walmart aren't hiring people full-time at 40 hours a week because that requires the worker get benefits. So they hire mostly part-time work at 30-hours a week or less, which isn't enough for people to live, so the workers have to try and get a second job.


There are a few solutions to this. You could completely separate health insurance from employment. Or you could require benefits for part-time employees as well.


I never got why health insurance is tied to employment. Then when you switch jobs, you start a new plan and then there could be a gap where you could be uninsured. I think health insurance should be separated from employment. I think we're the only country that does it this way.


This. So much this.

You can also do things like require the same sort of benefits for all employees. Pro-rated vacation and sick time, if offered, as well as retirement, discounts, and other such things.


> You Americans are so brutal to each other.

Brutal is an exaggeration. Americans don't come close to leading in the 50+ hour work week category. The US now ranks below: Iceland, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea on that metric and has been falling down those rankings for decades.

https://utopiayouarestandinginit.com/2016/08/15/employees-wo...


When I say brutal, I'm not specifically talking about people working 50+ hours a week, I'm talking about the mindset that says that the singular number of how many bucks you can pull in should determine whether or not you're going to have a seriously downtrodden life, as if that were the only measure of your value to the world, or as a human being.


How should you measure your value to the world if not by what you produce? By being very very good looking and your mother thinks you're smart? By being a nice person? Being nice should be table stakes, but ultimately, on average, people need to produce more than they consume or the world as we know it fails. It wasn't too long ago, that 50+ hours/week was a luxury - and it wasn't earned by typing at a desk.


Many contributions that people make to a functioning society can't, and never will be, quantified.

One way around this is to assign a base value to a person because they are a member of the human race and a citizen of your country, and then let them demonstrate additional value through the usual capitalist means.

It's imperfect, certainly, but it works well enough in many developed countries, and it's more accurate than the model that says what can't be measured has no value.


>By being very very good looking

Models are paid to be very, very good-looking. "What you produce" is a value decision in the first place, one that society makes together by how we allocate resources.


Yes. We basically pay people based on 1 metric.

Not what they produce, but how good they are at convincing other people to give them money. Whether it's by building a product, being very good-looking, or asking for a handout. (Sure you can say that we pay people based on what they produce if you argue that a homeless man is producing good feelings when you donate to him, but I think that's a bit silly).

Obviously this is always going to be the case to some extent in a free society, but we should definitely do more to help those who don't happen to be good at convincing other people to part with their cash.


And how does that brutality compare to the 96% (or more) of the rest of the world that falls below the US median standard of living? You're trying to pretend those systems aren't extraordinarily brutal to their people? It's absurd.

I see no evidence to support your premise that the US is brutal toward its people, given the high wages the US pays, the high standard of living the US offers at the median, and the extraordinarily high disposable income levels the US offers at the median ($44,000 household disposable income vs eg $28,000 in Finland). Where's the brutality? The sole thing I can see that is actually bad is in healthcare.

Let's compare the US median to the medians in: Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, UK, Germany, Italy, Czech, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Russia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, Nigeria, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia.

The only thing you're going to find where the US lags significantly, is in regards to healthcare costs. In nearly every other economic respect, the US exceeds those nations and the radical majority of the planet.


Why would you compare the US to developing countries. If you want to compare us to other countries, compare us to developed countries.

Yes our median and mean incomes, disable incomes, household wealth etc... are high.

But those values aren't very evenly distributed at all. Just look at average household wealth by race. You'll find an enormous discrepancy. (I was actually shocked when I looked at this. I knew it was bad, but not that bad)

We have a huge number of people doing incredibly well, and a huge number of people barely getting by. The social programs other developed countries offer go a long way towards easing the burdens of that 2nd group.

You can point to Finland and say that yes they have $16k less in disposable income, but they have universal health care (which you already pointed out), they have paid family leave, they have worker protections, better unemployment etc...


New Zealand & Australia having a higher percentage of people working 50+ hour weeks over the US seems unintuitive.

Update - Getting downvoted, so here's explanation:

This doesn't align with the culture over there at all. I think this source is questionable.

For example, if you compare the average hours worked per worker over a year (descending), the U.S. is #18 with 1,789 hours while Australia is much lower at #27 with 1,664 hours [1].

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_time


>"60-hour weeks basically means you live to work. Have you considered that perhaps someone's economic usefulness shouldn't be the only determinate of whether they have to spend essentially their entire lives on Earth just trying to survive?"

Have you considered that perhaps it's someone's prerogative and right to choose whether or not they want to pay for other people's lack of "economic usefulness"?

We're in this mess precisely because we had good intentions of helping the needy, and propping them up. All that did was raise their number, putting all sorts of economic pressures on existing poor people's salaries. Now we're expected to foot the bill even more?

You know, at some point, people are going to start saying enough to that sort of thing. It's borderline emotional-terrorism to guilt people into supporting so many needy. NO I am not a bad person for wanting the best for the people I care about. And not wanting to sacrifice it for the people who are reckless about bringing innocents into this world on my expense, and then teaching them anyways to hate me for not wanting to sacrifice further.

One last thing. I come from a family where the sole bread-winner did work 60-hour work weeks, and still does. Precisely so that I and my sibling wouldn't have to. Though I still do, because I want even better for the people I care about and brought into this world.


Your last paragraph is kind of to my point: in many other developed countries, your bread-winner _wouldn't have had to_ make such a huge sacrifice, just to make sure their dependants don't get stuck in poverty.

There's countries in the world where the bottom rung isn't such a terrible place, and people don't have to constantly sacrifice just to make sure they don't end up there. And those countries are doing just fine - there's no horde unemployed destroying their economies. There is, however, less stress, less fear, and a better standard of living for the median person. And sure, there's no country that's perfect, but what I'm saying is there's at least one alternative, which is currently working well in real economies, to the "red in tooth and claw" fight that Americans feel is necessary.

I'm not making a guilt-trip argument here. If you're a working class person in America, by a wide range of objective measures (access to health care and education, life expectancy, time with family, class mobility, exposure to crime, etc.) you're worse off than if you were in the working class in many other countries, ones with higher taxes and more generous welfare systems. Sure, if you look at just your taxes going out, it looks worse, but the situation overall for everyone in the 99% is improved. You just have to get over your distaste for your taxes helping poor (and sometimes lazy) people, because despite that it still ends up helping you.


This is especially a problem because any solutions that are politically likely at this point, like raising the minimum wage, aren't taking money from the wealthiest, they're taking money from the middle class to fund wealth redistribution.


The taxation system is a man-made thing. If Americans wanted to raise the minimum wage, but redistribute the costs of it to the upper and not middle class, that is absolutely possible.


It's possible but there's basically no chance of that occurring in the current political climate. Our "liberal" party is dominated by corporate interests. Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee is basically the perfect example of that. It probably isn't clear based on my other posts, but I'd love to have some of the policies Bernie Sanders has proposed rather than what I've talked about here. At this point it just seems a bit like a fantasy. Especially given how gerrymandering has the Republicans in a position to keep ahold of the House for quite awhile.


> Have you considered that perhaps someone's economic usefulness shouldn't be the only determinate of whether they have to spend essentially their entire lives on Earth just trying to survive?

Yes. We have. A great many of us have considered this at significant length over the course of centuries. The question is not novel by any reasonable measure.

Do you have a suggestion along the lines of an answer, or did you wish to merely pose the question?


The answer has long since been established to be, "No, a person's personhood is morally primary and overrides their economic usefulness or uselessness."


Indeed!

However, history suggests that translating that laudable sentiment into actual resource-allocating policy and social organization is upon occasion slightly less than maximally clear, obvious, or straightforward.


>You Americans are so brutal to each other. Instead of trying to address the problem of why someone can't live on a 40-hour week, you just want to remove one of the staple worker-protection laws.

I take it you're European? What's the youth unemployment rate in your country?


Canadian, and it's similar to America's.


> You Americans are so brutal to each other.

So first off that's kind of offensive. Secondly, one commentor on HN doesn't reflect the views of 300M+ people.

People typically come to HN because it fosters good discussion. Throwing insults at an entire country doesn't accomplish that at all.


I'm American, and I'm more offended by the way we treat workers than I am by someone calling us out on it.

It's not an insult. It might not reflect the views of the entire country, but it is an accurate depiction of our labor policies.

We are the only developed nation in the world without paid maternity/paternity leave. No universal healthcare. No protection from arbitrary termination. And a terribly low minimum wage that hasn't kept up with inflation.


We? My state has a decent minimum wage, my company offers good benefits, including cheap healthcare and paid maternity/paternity leave.

Some people might not care about their fellow workers but some of us do. Typecasting all Americans as brutal is offensive. I say this as someone who actively helped to campaign for a higher minimum wage. But yeah, I'm American so I must not care about anyone else. I'm fucking sick of this stereotype.


> my company offers good benefits, including cheap healthcare and paid maternity/paternity leave

How does that help people who aren't working for your company. That's like saying America isn't brutal to it's workers because rich people can afford good dental plans. Sure we're not brutal to people who have good well-paying jobs. We're brutal to people who aren't that fortunate.

> But yeah, I'm American so I must not care about anyone else. I'm fucking sick of this stereotype.

Work to change it. Our country sucks when it comes to labor rights and social welfare compared to every other developed country.

As long as that's true it's not really unfair to call us brutal to workers.

Obviously there are those of us who aren't, but it's a pretty fair generalization for the country as a whole.


A bit of an aside, but there is no such thing as a "good dental plan" when you talk about affording one in the US. Every single dental plan I've seen has a fairly low cap on the annual amount it will pay out; for many that cap is below the annual premium.

Dental plans as practiced in the US only make sense if someone other than the beneficiary is paying the premiums. So what really matters isn't whether someone is rich but whether their employer is paying for a dental plan.

Now "rich people" can afford to just pay the dentist, of course. Not least because dentists typically have sane price transparency (e.g. will tell you ahead of time how much something will cost) and dental emergencies are very rare, so people can usefully shop around. As a result dentists are actually subject to price competition, unlike most of the other parts of the medical profession.


That's very true. I did manage to find a dental insurance plan that has a $3500 max payout to any dentist (no network limitations, covers 80% of most stuff 50% of major things like crowns/surgery etc..) and costs less than $700 per year in premiums.

It's worth it to me because I'm self employed, so I can deduct dental insurance premiums, but I make too much to deduct direct dental costs (they're too small a percent of my income).

Since my marginal tax rate is close to 50% it only costs me about $350 a year, which is a bit less than it saves me on average each year when I've needed normal stuff like 2 cleanings, x-rays, a filling or 2. And my cost after tax deduction is a lot less than it would save me if I did need some major work.


> > You Americans are so brutal to each other.

> So first off that's kind of offensive.

Perhaps, but it's also true, at least when restricted to relative comparisons within the field of employment.


It's certainly not universally true. Not for employers and not for citizens. There are people in the US that care about those things and it's lazy to neglect that and instead just state that all Americans don't care.


There is almost never a time when someone says group X thinks Y that they mean literally every person in group X thinks Y.

If I say the Japanese love seafood that doesn't mean I think there are no Japanese people who hate seafood.

We're speaking in a natural language not Lojban.


This kind of runs against the philosophical ideal of the limited workweek though. The idea is that people should never have to work more than 40 hours to make ends meet, and so when working 40 hours is not enough, the government will close the gap.

Sure, we could probably reduce welfare dependence by allowing people to work 60h a week, but that would be abandoning one of the most important principles of the fair labor standards act and greatest achievements of the labor movement.


You can survive on 40h a week, but that's about it. I don't think it's worth limiting people who want to do better than that just to try and get people to work less on average. So I guess their achievement just doesn't go far enough in my mind because it hinders economic mobility. If it were possible to succeed on 40h a week of minimum wage, then it might be different. I don't think that's really possible to achieve universally though federal policy, though. I'd prefer to just get rid of the overtime pay requirement and health care requirements included in the ACA (or probably most of the ACA. The mandate and tax is really terrible for young working people.)

Edit: Just to clarify a bit, when I was working 2 minimum wage jobs it was because I wanted to be able to build some savings. I could have actually lived more comfortably (and had health insurance) had I opted to only work one job and apply for benefits, but then I just would have been getting by. Had I not had the extra money saved up I wouldn't have been able to replace my car when it's transmission went out, or be able to take the risk to work at a startup which is how I started my career as a software engineer.


If a full time job at minimum wage with benefits isn't enough to get out of poverty, then changing the definition of 'full time' seems like an odd solution. Raising minimum wage or benefits seems much more reasonable alternatives.


Raising minimum wage also reduces the number of jobs available fir the most needy.


Incorrect - raising the price of labor does not decrease the demand for labor. It's a movement along the demand curve, not a shift. Ultimately, what will influence the amount of jobs available at Walmart will be the demand for Walmart's products, macro economic trends, technological innovation, etc. They're obviously not doing this out of a goodness of their heart - their doing it because their stores are a mess and sales have been slumping. By increasing worker's wages, their betting that the increase in productivity will spur demand for Walmart's products.


> Incorrect - raising the price of labor does not decrease the demand for labor. It's a movement along the demand curve, not a shift.

But wouldn't this movement along the demand curve reduce the number of jobs available (at the point where demand and supply cross)?


Remarkable that simple application of the yet-to-be-disproven (or even seriously contested) theory of supply and demand to the price of labor is downvoted where you'd expect to find rational people.

https://fee.org/articles/raising-the-minimum-wage-wont-allev...


That's what my second point was alluding to - I should have been more clear:

Since the premise is that the demand for Wal-Mart's products has fallen due to worker unproductivity, their bet is that there will be a new demand curve altogether by increasing their productivity, one that is shifted to the "right" of the original one. The price of labor is counteracted by the new demand for it.


nine_k's remark was about the general effect of raising the minimum wage. You seem to be talking about Walmart deciding to pay more to their workers, a completely different issue.


That's a myth.

But that raising the work-time per worker reduces the number of jobs available is not a myth, it's mathematical inevitability (unless work-hours needed not only will grow to compensate, but also grow more than if the per worker work-time had remained fixed).



The most needy who barely survive on minimum wage? That's not compassion for the most needy, it's exploitation of the most needy and government safety nets.


Obviously some jobs might become unviable if you raise the minimum wage. However unless society fails catastrophically there will always be demand to fulfil everyone's basic needs, which should supply enough jobs to fulfil those needs.


>You can survive on 40h a week, but that's about it.

We could thrive on 20h a week.

We just don't have a rational allotment of resources, but rely on busy-work, antiquated (pre software and pre-automation) work ethics and timelines, and squeeze them extra too so that enterprises and employers can get that extra profit margin out of employees.


I've heard this before about busy work (aka "bullshit jobs") but I'm not sure why we have them. Isn't it in the company's best interest to not have them?


> Isn't it in the company's best interest to not have them?

Usually, yes. But the company might not necessarily only make decisions in their own best interest.

Sometimes, executives/owners just like to see lots of people head-down "hard at work". Sometimes, execs/owners adamantly believe work has to be done, that doesn't actually need to be done. Sometimes, the customer demands busy work be done and pays the company for it. (every Enterprise or Government contract I've ever seen has some amount of this) Sometimes, people just can't agree on what work is busy work in the first place.

I'm sure there are more reasons. Those four come to mind because I have personally experienced all of them at some point in the last decade.


Do managers generally have any incentive to recommend laying off subordinates when they're no longer required? They certainly have incentive to keep them around doing bullshit work -- the higher your headcount the more prestige you have as a manager.


If workers move from 40 hours a week to 60 hours a week, that's going to result in up to a 50% reduction in available jobs. Realistically the number will be lower, as not everyone is going to want to work that much. But that's still going to have a huge negative effect on unemployment.

With the slow but steady rise of automation, the solution is not more work per employee, but less. There's going to be an incredibly rough period as unrestrained capitalism struggles against ideas like basic income. But there will come a day when there isn't enough work to go around, and your idea will only make this situation worse.

We have the wealth to pay workers more, at least in the US. It's just that the top ~400 people have more of it than the bottom 160,000,000 people combined. This doesn't require absolute socialism where everyone is given exactly the same amount regardless of work ethic; any amount of reduction in income inequality would be beneficial. A return to where we were in the 1950s (ignoring other inequality issues of the time) would be a very positive step.

Further, exponential growth of revenue is impossible to sustain indefinitely. At some point, people are going to have to stop judging a company that breaks even or has stable profits as a failure. As long as a company isn't losing money, it's providing value to all the people it employs, and to the economy as a whole by allowing those workers to purchase goods and services from others.


> At some point, people are going to have to stop judging a company that breaks even or has stable profits as a failure.

These are called utility companies or dividend companies and no one judges them a failure, outside of the SV bubble.


That isn't necessarily true. I wouldn't expect a wholesale move to 60 hour work weeks if the overtime pay requirement were raised or eliminated. And there are many people who already want to work 60 or more hours a week who get a second job to do that, but it's a very annoying and inconvenient process, and it usually results in a decent amount of wasted energy on the part of the worker. Having two jobs is especially inconvient when it takes 40+ minutes to commute via public transportation.

Though I also agree that there should be more wealth redistribution. But without a very significant increase in that sort of thing, the existing laws are still going to be more in the way of workers than actually helping them in my opinion.


> I wouldn't expect a wholesale move to 60 hour work weeks if the overtime pay requirement were raised or eliminated.

Certainly not. But for every two people that do, that's one more 40-hour-a-week job eliminated from the market. Unemployment is already at, depending on who you ask, 5% to 10%. Do we want to make that worse?

Further, people's natural productivity drops off after a certain point due to exhaustion. Why would an employer even want to pay the same employee to work to the bone when they can pay two employees the same amount and have them at their best?

> And there are many people who already want to work 60 or more hours a week who get a second job to do that, but it's a very annoying and inconvenient process

This isn't meant as a negative response to you, I just thought I'd share my experiences with you, if you're interested.

When I first started out on my own at 18, I was in the position where I had to. To qualify for an apartment, you had to make 3x the income level of your rent. The cheapest apartment was this affair where you paid for a room and shared living space with three others (they handled the roommates for you, so you weren't screwed if one up and left), for $425 a month (this was in 2001.)

Net income from 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart was just shy of $800 a month. So that required me working an extra 25-30 hours a week at McDonalds. It wasn't too bad because I spoke with both managers and worked things out before accepting the second job. But I agree, this can usually be really hard in these kinds of jobs that want to change your schedule every week.

Now to say that people "want" to do this ... holy fuck no. I literally started getting gray streaks in my hair after a few weeks of doing that. At 18 years old. I had no energy or time to do anything else. I basically lived to work.

I get that people do this, and some even work -more- hours, and do even -harder- work (like farm labor.) But, you know, fuck that. With my body decayed as much as it has since then, it would be impossible for me to do that again. And honestly, no hyperbole at all, I'd rather be dead than live like that again.

I always find it so laughably obscene that just because I am good at computer programming, I now earn six times more per hour (even accounting for inflation), and work 40% less hours per week. I never feel right that I make so much more simply because I'm good at something that others aren't. The lazy ones who don't try, sure. But the ones who just don't have the intellect for higher skilled labor ... that's heartbreaking that they're stuck in these kinds of positions.

And since I've shared their experience, it's a lot harder for me to turn a blind eye and tell them to just work more.

---

Now all that said, maybe you've worked longer and harder than I have, and find me to be a huge wuss. And there's probably some truth in that. I'm definitely only speaking for myself here.


People have been talking about automation for generations. Replace "robot" with "combine" or "steam engine" or "cotton gin" and you get the exact same talk.

In part the answer is that people actually do work less than they used to. Less child labor, longer retirement--even the idea of retirement is something new.

Seems like that paid family leave so many want would be a good way to lessen work.

Society has found ways to cope with efficiency before, and the result has always been that people wind up with a higher standard of living. There's no reason it will be different now.


> People have been talking about automation for generations.

Sure. But there's some truly devastating automations coming up unlike any before it.

Self-driving vehicles are going to kill four million decent paying jobs driving semis. Where are these jobs going to go? Manufacturing is all but gone here. Outsourcing is taking out another huge swath of skilled workers. We're not going to be able to run an entire economy on the service industry.

And even those jobs aren't safe. Grocery stores are steadily replacing cashiers with self-checkouts. Fast food is increasingly being automated -- Eatsa has one employee working per store. People are staying home and ordering online where warehouse jobs at eg Amazon are increasingly assisted by automation.

Yes, if we look at the past, there's a lot of unnecessary jobs we've eliminated. Pin setters for bowling alleys, street lamp lighters, phone switch operators, etc. Then we have the really good paying jobs we've cut through outsourcing manufacturing and programming jobs. And yes, every time we've had some new job for people to go to. And they've always been worse jobs with lower pay.

We've gone from a time where one person working could afford a house and two cars, and get a pension retirement at 65; to now where both spouses need to work, probably can't afford a house, and will need their kids to get by on student loans to go to college. 401Ks do not replace pensions, and they can disappear out from under you (eg MCI Worldcom.)

But this time is different: we're really on the bottom rung of jobs in the service industry. Replace these jobs, and there's nowhere else to go.

Society is going to be forced to deal with a post-work economy. I don't mean no one working, but I do mean "there aren't enough jobs for everyone to work 40, let alone 60, hours a week." Broken window fallacy and all.

I think the pace of automation is slow right now, as we still aren't very good with AI. But eventually there's going to be a breakthrough in AI, and I don't see our governments keeping up with how rapidly everything is going to change.

Maybe this future is 10 years away. Maybe it's 100 years away. But it is coming.


How is 50-60 relevant? Shift employees at many companies beg for ~40 hours but can't get them. Walmart gives employees ~30hr weeks, to avoid providing health insurance. It's not about the overhead of juggling extra shifts, it's about circumventing labor laws to pay lowest possible hourly wages.


That's part of the problem I was referring to. If reducing hours didn't cut the cost of labor then employers wouldn't have an incentive to do it, and people wouldn't need second jobs. That 30 hour thing is fairly recent, and some companies get around it by simply having really shitty insurance that nobody is going to opt into. McDonalds does this. I don't know if that's the approach Walmart takes, but I was able to get around 40 hours a week there while I did work there. That may differ based upon the job you do though -- I was unloading trucks mainly.


>In my experience this problem could be alleviated if it were possible for a worker to work a 50-60 hour week at a single job without incurring additional expenses for their employe

Yeah. Also slavery might work.


People are already working those kind of hours, sometimes more. It's just difficult and they end up having to do stupid shit like have an hour and a half between shifts that isn't really good for anything. Most people who work two jobs would rather work 10-12 hour shifts instead of shorter shifts at two different jobs, often 6-7 days a week instead of 5.


>Most people who work two jobs would rather work 10-12 hour shifts instead of shorter shifts at two different jobs, often 6-7 days a week instead of 5.

Maybe we shouldn't optimize for the lesser evil but fix the issue altogether?


>In my experience this problem could be alleviated if it were possible for a worker to work a 50-60 hour week at a single job without incurring additional expenses for their employer.

How would working more without any more wages actually help the worker? Or do you mean the worker would receive their normal hourly wage without the "additional expense" of time-and-a-half overtime rates?

This scheme sounds insane, a recipe for slave-driving and exploitation of the worst kinds.


The problem is that people are already getting second jobs for this very reason. People want to work more when they're only making around minimum wage, and the laws that are supposed to protect them just make that difficult.

I was saying they ought to get the same hourly rate but that the time and a half pay should not be mandated as a federal law as it is now.


>substantial (2-digit) percentage

A substantial (2-digit) number of percentages are substantial (2-digit) percentages.


I never found this a very compelling observation. So what? If Walmart had to pay enough to cover other benefits a substantial number of them wouldn't have jobs.


They have competition. Dollar tree, one of walmarts biggest competitors in many areas has a similarly high percentage of their workforce on food stamps.


Are you assigning blame to Walmart for this?


Are you holding them blameless? If so, why? This is the largest employer in the US and to not hold them responsible would imply they don't have the leverage to change the playing field. Of course they do.


Change what playing field?

Are you saying that in order to do business, a company must pay each employee enough to keep them off food stamps?


Absolutely. We've somehow decided that businesses are entitled to enjoy the benefits of workers having enough money to live (i.e. large pool of willing, living employees, who are probably not going to die for lack of basic necessities before their shift tomorrow), with the public picking up a good chunk of the tab.

That's a subsidy. Every welfare dollar that helps a Walmart employee stay alive and go to work tomorrow is a gift from the taxpayer to Walmart shareholders: they'd have to pay for it if we didn't.


Ok cool. So glad to hear that me the consumer would get all this free of charge.


You the tax payer are already paying for this in the form of food-stamps and social programs that allow companies to benefit from well-fed, capable workers, while paying less than living wages.


So if I didn't have to pay the tax, I'd still have to pay in increased costs for goods. Either way it's costing me.


Only to the extent that your consumption involves cheap labor.


Ahhh. So I'm a piece of crap cause I can only afford Walmart prices.

Thank you Mr Privileged.


That would be an excellent requirement to add to U.S. law, yes.


Really? Oh do please explain how you would see that playing out in real life.


What do you expect them to do? They pay the minimum hourly wage or more, they don't have a responsibility to do any more.

Frankly, if they unilaterally decided to pay more it would harm more poor people than it would help since all kinds of poor people shop at Walmart (and would have to bear the resulting higher prices) and rich people don't.

Edit: added 'unilaterally'


We already pay the cost of them paying less because we have to subsidize those employees via. government benefits. Why should the American people subsidize the profits of a corporation for years?

And do you see why I think this headline of all things is ironic?


People making more than 76k/year (~20% of workers in US) subsidize Walmart workers. Most people making less than 76k are getting subsidized - as they should be. I would prefer people doing productive work in Walmart getting subsidized than subsidizing people watching TV at home.


Right. But the part you are leaving out is that the children of Walmart's founder are among the richest people in the history of the world. We are subsidizing their wealth.


So increase the tax on Walmart, Walmart's founders, and the rest of their shareholders, and rich people in general. Raising wages at Walmart (or the minimum wage across the board) is a terribly inefficient solution to wealth inequality.


Well, that's one point of view, but I disagree. Subsidizing the wealth of ultra-rich people...and then trying to recoup it by increasing their taxes seems much more inefficient.


At best, raising the minimum wage results in a transfer of wealth from middle class people to poor people. Rich people don't spend any significant part of their money on the products of minimum wage labour.

At worst, it would result in unemployment and recession.


Not to mention much easier to remove with some strategic campaign donations.


We already pay the cost of them paying less because we have to subsidize those employees via. government benefits.

It is exactly as valid to claim WalMart is saving taxpayers money by creating jobs and paying people who we'd have to fully support otherwise.


> Why should the American people subsidize the profits of a corporation for years?

Walmart already has extremely low profit margins, any increase in wages would be passed directly to their poor customers.

In fact, the status quo is the best way of solving the wealth inequality problem. That is, let Walmart make as much profit as they can and then tax the hell out of them, their well-paid executives, and their shareholders and redistribute that tax money to the poor.


How about this: Walmart pays a 30% effective corporate income tax rate. One of the highest on earth. You have to compare them to oil companies like Exxon to find higher rates. A rate significantly higher than the corporate income tax rates you'll commonly find in Europe.

Simultaneously they employ millions of worker that otherwise have few alternative job opportunities, and do so while consistently having among the lowest net income margins of any major corporation on the planet at ~3%. The mom & pop shops Walmart has often replaced were no better, they pay even higher wages than those businesses ever have.


How would you do that without removing food stamps or raising the minimum wage?


One of the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act's establishment of the federal minimum wage is that companies that employ people at the lowest wages cost the rest of us money, since those workers need tax-funded assistance like food stamps just to survive.


How does Walmart cost that money? If the company was to disappear, how would the tax-funded assistance drop? Is there evidence that Walmart prevents those employees from getting higher wages?


> One of the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act's establishment of the federal minimum wage is that companies that employ people at the lowest wages cost the rest of us money,

If you want to defend wage floors, going back to the "original purpose" of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act is probably a bad strategy.

"People employed at the lowest wages" was, at the time, a very strong dog-whistle for "immigrants and black people". The FLSA was passed with broad support from unions like the AFL, but that's because they wanted to ensure that their (largely white) members were employed and didn't have their jobs "stolen" by poorer immigrants and black people who were willing to work for less.

In other words, unions were betting that wage floors would mean "employees getting paid more, but fewer people employed", and they (correctly) assumed that discrimination against black people and immigrants would ensure that the white union members would still be among the group of people who remained employed.

> “The Caucasians . . . are not going to let their standard of living be destroyed by negroes, Chinamen, Japs or any others - Samuel Gompers, who founded the American Federation of Labor


While there is plenty of racism to find in the early days of the AFL (including from Gompers who e.g. described the Japanese as "evil" in the same issue of the American Federationist that your quote is from), that quote is out of context. It is from the September 1905 issue of American Federationist, where the full paragraph says:

> [Gompers] declared he was always ready to assert his patriotism on behalf of the colored man, saying " 'Tis true that some white men have been angered at the introduction of black strike breakers. I have stood as a champion of the colored man and have sacrificed self and much of the movement that the colored man should get a chance. But the Caucasians are not going to let their standard of living be destroyed by negroes, Chinamen, Japs or any others.

The statement fell in a discussion of black workers being pulled in as strike breakers in Chicago (the issue is returned to in a later section in the same article, warning that continued strike breaking would trigger race hate), not in the context of any discussion of minimum wage.

Curiously it is almost always quoted the way you do, with the "..." which do not appear in the original source (nor is any text cut from the quote at that point), and out of context, and is generally used to prop up modern attacks on the minimum wage.

Finding examples of racist then is easy - many unions still did not admit non-white members, and Gompers himself e.g. argued strongly for continued strict restriction on Asian immigration to the US and used racist language to do it.

But that quote is a curious choice both to use as a demonstration of Gompers or AFL racism given the context, and to quote in dicussions about minimum wage given that it's not what the quote is about.


The racism is ugly and fitting for its time, but this is actually a case where it comes from a legitimate concern, not just competitive hatred -- If immigrants work for lower wages, society overall suffers. Someone else being willing to work for less than is a legitimate concern.

When white natives decided to work for less, they got hateful slurs too. They were called "scabs", and their was no racial motivation to it.

Gompers took us halfway -- to wage floors, and the Equal Rights / Anti-Discrimination laws took us the other half, to a comprehensive platform of support for the entire working class. (Of course, that platform still has holes and erosions and needs repairs)


> If immigrants work for lower wages, society overall suffers...

The current case being made for more open borders is that a flood of low wage workers is _awesome_ for society.


That's contradicted by another purpose of the Act, which is to employ more people--not fewer people.

It's called overtime.

Instead of working one person 80 hours a week, give two people jobs where each works 40 hours a week.

If you want to work someone more than 40 hours a week, fine--but pay time and a half for those additional hours.

Cheaper to employ more people.


> They pay the minimum hourly wage or more, they don't have a responsibility to do any more.

They may actually have such a responsibility, they simply don't have an obligation.


They lobby for EITC like proposals to be put in place so that they can offload part of their labor costs onto the tax payers.

No wonder EITC is so popular among the usual suspects.


How much actual difference is there between EITC and HN's current darling BI?


> They lobby for EITC like proposals to be put in place so that they can offload part of their labor costs onto the tax payers.

This is a weird criticism to make, because the EITC doesn't "offload" labor costs at all. In fact, the biggest advantage of the EITC over systems like wage floors is that the EITC is completely invisible to the employer. (If you hire ten employees for the same role at the same wage, three could be receiving EITC benefits, but you may not even know, because you're paying them the same amount regardless. It just so happens that the people who receive the benefits end up taking home more of the money you give them.

> No wonder EITC is so popular among the usual suspects.

EITC has broad, bipartisan support not because of some conspiracy, but because it actually works. And, unlike the minimum wage, it scales gradually, and it also can be used to target people in need of different levels of assistance with zero additional overhead.

In other words, take that example of ten employees. Three are on the EITC - one is a middle-aged, single mother of three children, one is a married father of two, and one is a 22-year old single mother attending college full-time (on top of work). The other seven are all upper-middle-class college students who have all of their tuition and their living expenses paid for by their parents, and are simply working a summer job to earn some extra pocket cash for the "non-essential" expenses that their parents won't cover.

It's pretty clear that those three need assistance whereas the other seven don't. And it's also clear that those three don't need exactly the same levels of assistance either. But for the employer, that doesn't (and shouldn't) factor into the equation - you don't want the employer deciding that the single working mother of three needs to be paid more[0].

The EITC provides an easy way for those three to take home more money without the employer entering the equation. And all three cases result in the same amount of government overhead, regardless of how much assistance they receive. Furthermore, if they receive raises (perhaps they're promotion) or their eligibility changes (let's say the first woman gets married, and the combined incomes mean she needs less - or let's say one of them has an additional child), the assistance calculation scales smoothly with those life changes.

[0] If for no other reason than the fact that, in the long run, this results in employment discrimination against women (and especially mothers).


The missing step here is that the EITC should be funded by tax on companies that have low wage employees alongside extremely highly-paid employees/managers, and profit-taking owners


If you put additional taxes on hiring low-wage employees, you make it harder for them to get a job, and take away their one competitive advantage relative to higher skill workers.


I don't fully understand how paying worker's more money makes the stores cleaner, have brighter lighting, or ensures that the shelves are stocked. Much of that has to do with spending money to remodel stores, paying more money to ensure that enough staff are employed to clean the stores (McDonald's is famous for cleanliness thanks to the leadership of its founder), and improving logistics and ensuring there is enough staff to put items on shelves. I'm glad people are getting more money, but I see a correlation with higher wages not a causation, and I don't see they changes in budgets for the stores which may account for the higher sales per store.

According to Megan McArdle's article on Walmart and Costco [1], Walmart has one employee for every $211,000 in revenue while Costco has one employee for every $620,000 in revenue. For each dollar of revenue, Walmart hires 3 people compared to 1 for Costco, which has 107,000 employees.

Thus, if Costco were using Walmart's metrics, they would hire about 215,000 additional employees, most of whom would need only a high school education, at that. Jobs that can be done with little education are the jobs that are being exported to Mexico and China.

Interestingly, articles on paying higher wages never seem to focus on the number of people employed.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2013-08-27/why-walma...


Costco is selling wholesale / larger quantities to a different customer segment who is also spending more money though. I'm not sure comparing the two here makes sense to me.


But many people do compare Walmart to Costco by comparing the relatively lower wages that Walmart pays compared to Costco (or Trader Joe's) [1]

I'm simply demonstrating that Costco could hire more employees among the segment of people with little education and help to lower unemployment. Many people batter Walmart for not increasing wages for employees, but just as important is that Costco could hire many more employees and help to reduce unemployment.

In my view, I think the writers should point out Walmart as an example of hiring 3 times more people per dollar of revenue than Costco (I don't know the figure for Trader Joe's) and thus, compared to Costco, doing much more to reduce unemployment. But you never read an article asking Costco to hire more people, only criticizing Walmart for not paying enough.

[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/03/the-trad...


It would definitely be interesting to see comparable data around Trader Joe's or even Whole Foods.


I'm curious if anyone has done any analysis on the "other Walmart" phenomenon -- when there are two walmarts (or malls) in a given area, one of them (the older one, usually) rapidly gets far worse. Overall, it seems like it gets worse than it would have on its own, and worse than simply removing customers. What amazes me is that this happens even in suburban/rural locations where everyone drives to the stores, so going from the bad store to the good store is at most the direct-drive distance between them (sometimes just a couple of minutes). Why would anyone at all continue to go to the bad one?


Meanwhile, Walmart can increase profits by simply hiring fewer workers (or laying off more). Allegedly, in 2012, Walmart was spending $12MM per second of transaction time in cashier wages alone[1].

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/walmart-idUSL2E8E72FF20120307


That's per second of average transaction time, meaning one second times the total number of transactions (per year I guess?). Kind of a meaningless metric in my opinion.


Good point, I glossed over that. I'm not sure I understand your interpretation properly, though. My interpretation was they took all of the transaction times, divided them by the total number of transactions, and then divided that number by their total expenditure in cashier personnel costs. I wouldn't go so far as to characterize this as "meaningless," but I will admit it's a little weird to measure your personnel costs in terms of dollars per second of the average time a given transaction takes. I think the idea is to shock people with a big number -- 12MM per second is shocking. However, the article doesn't explain that Walmart employs more people than any other company, world-wide[1] -- that's also a big number, and so when you divide the two, a much smaller number appears. The more interesting number, I think, is the total personnel costs versus the number of personnel -- some average or quantile that demonstrates, on a smaller scale, the ratio of personnel cost. Now, multiply that number to scale back up to number of transactions and you'll get a better representation of the personnel cost per transaction, without the oddball time axis.

In fact, as I'm thinking about this, perhaps you're saying it's a meaningless metric because it makes no sense to compare dollars per average transaction-second to dollars for all cashiers, as the units aren't correlated and just give random values.

[1] http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/08/24/24-7...



The headline is false. Far down in the article, find this nuggest:

"The profit landscape is less sunny. Operating income for Walmart’s United States stores was down 6 percent in the most recent quarter, reflecting higher labor costs and other new investments."

And while employee headcount from 2008 is mentioned, there is no mention of the number of employees who have been let go to allow for paying high wages to the remaining workers.

This article is yet another example of how the NY Times is a well-disguised propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.


Sales and operating income are two different metrics. The headline is not false, it just doesn't say what you want it to say.

Paragraph 10:

"The results are promising. By early 2016, the proportion of stores hitting their targeted customer-service ratings had rebounded to 75 percent. Sales are rising again."


Maybe the person you reply to was confused by the original title in HN, which was "Walmart generated higher sales, profits by paying workers more, better training" (that's not the NYT's fault, tough).


Double post, please delete one.


Another way is how WinCo does it, each employee can become an owner as it is majority employee owned, and it is a very well run place. Yes you can buy stock in Wal-mart or Costco and Costco has profit sharing, but there is something about owning a part of the company you work at that helps productivity, responsibility and caring what happens to the company. Personally I like shopping there because I know people there value it and more money is going to the workers.

One example of how this may be better is a lower performing store that is still making a profit may stay open, other larger chains may remove stores and cut lower performing stores even though profit is made. Not a flawless system but owning shares, ownership and being a part of the company in this way makes the best work come out of skilled people.

http://wincofoods.com/about/an-employee-owned-company/


How does the lower performing store work in that sense? Is it separate from the rest in some way?

The reason low profit locations are often shut down is because there are often higher profit places to park that capital.

So if I'm a shareholder employee of another location or HQ, I might wonder why we're not doing something that will grow the company even more.

Of course this is where things like company values and mission statements come into play to ensure everyone is aligned.

Not advocating that this is necessarily what I'd do in that situation, just curious how it is handled when it inevitably comes up.


Would be interesting if anybody will follow them. Walmart is taking a hit for the american economy by giving it's workers more spending power, not something I would have ever expected from the retail giant.


They aren't doing it for the economy they are doing it because their sales were sliding as a result of poor customer experience. They realized that their focus on lowest possible labor cost left them in a position where they were getting the least ambitious bottom of the barrel labor. So they hypothesized that by training people in basic retail concepts, like how to stock a shelve to be visually attractive, offering people an above minimum wage and a path to better opportunities within the company that they could have a better trained workforce and better retain those people.


It's more a way to try to quell incipient union action. They've closed several stores in order to head off strike action already (which is expensive) and it failed.


I mean, they're not doing it for the American economy. They're experimenting to see how it affects their short and long term profits.

Why do i believe they're not helping the American economy? Because firstly, that is not what they legally holden to (ie, the stock holders). Secondly, and most importantly, Walmart is costing the country a lot by not paying their workers a living wage. So a job at walmart means another person on government social aid program(s).


> So a job at walmart means another person on government social aid program(s)

As opposed to a person with no job (at Walmart or otherwise) who would then not be on said programs?

That is, you are assuming that if Walmart paid more it would still have just as many employees. This assumption is not obviously true, and is likely false.


I'm assuming exactly what i said. A job at walmart means another person on government aid, which is obviously (mostly) true.

By (loose) definition, non-living wage employment results in needing assistance - ie government assistance. Whether you agree with it or not is another story.

I'm not saying Walmart shouldn't exist because employees are on government assistance. I'm saying that Walmart is profiting off of this assistance.


I am sure others are thinking about how to get the same results without paying more.


Barely a blip about companies like Costco in this. Costco and Publix are my favorite in terms of using culture and compensation to get great results. Here's two links on them:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/19/reasons-love-costco...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2013/07/24/the-wal-...

I think it's important in discussions like these to point out that Costco got to $100 billion a year without advertising by just paying people well and keeping management out of their way. The result was they did a great job with high customer service that spread business by word of mouth. Remember that this $100+ billion business started in 1983. Publix, founded in 1930, similarly minimized number and cost of management and executives while keeping large numbers of production workers whose personal stock rewards them based on company performance. Founder, like Costco's, still rich despite taking care of employees. The result is Publix is most profitable of all grocers with highest service level. Almost twice the margin of Walmart despite selling less stuff with very, conservative expansion.

This shit isn't rocket science like biased NY Times and other corporate media would have you believe. Virtually every company that does these things outperforms those that don't. Toyota Production System probably being one with most media coverage. They rarely talk about most, though, since the owners of corporate media are themselves pulling outrageous amounts of money out of their semi-micro-managed companies. Any widespread change of the compensation situation in America to favor workers would pull money of out media managers' own pockets. So they seem to censor companies like Publix and Costco a lot while making a big fuss of how McDonalds might handle a raise. Sickening but makes rational sense given incentives of media executives (highest compensation) and business model (ad revenue from companies screwing workers). Don't bite the hand that feeds.

It's that simple for vast majority of cases. As I always say, most of these medium to high margin firms could take care of and enable workers if a 1.6%, 2.2%, or 5.6% (IIRC...) margin company can do it. That those companies outperform micro-managed firms treating people like cogs despite less management & executive compensation means companies forgoing this strategy are doing it for reasons that have nothing to do with company performance. More like executive's paychecks and managers' egos. ;)


The HN user submitted the article with the editorialized title: "Walmart generated higher sales, profits by paying workers more, better training"

Please don't mislead readers with false information. The original NYT title does not have the word "profits" in it:

"How Did Walmart Get Cleaner Stores and Higher Sales? It Paid Its People More"

This is a critical distinction because the details of the story actually explain that profits are down -- not up -- after paying their workers more:

>The profit landscape is less sunny. Operating income for Walmart’s United States stores was down 6 percent in the most recent quarter, reflecting higher labor costs and other new investments.

>In the short term, the Walmart experiment shows pretty clearly that paying people better improves both the work force and the shoppers’ experience, but not profitability, at least not yet.


Thank you, we've updated the submission title.


It's one thing to editorialize a title (though that's still wrong), but in this case the article says the exact opposite of the title. And, if the idea is that paying workers more is better for business, the fact that the lower profits are directly due to the higher wages is an argument against paying more.


I'm curious how much of it has to do with perception too. I avoid Walmart. I don't feel they treat their employees well, pay them well, or do anything well, fwiw. I much rather shop where i have the perception that the employees are happier.

So, just because Walmart is paying them better, does not inherently mean they are happier OR that i know they are being treated better. I had no clue, and thusly have not changed my shopping habits at all.


If it helps, Walmart don't pay their employees poorly because they are less moral than other companies, but because they hire a different type of employee from, for example, Starbucks. If you happen to live in a place with Starbucks and Walmart, try visiting both and then ask yourself if the Walmart employee would stand a chance of getting a job at Starbucks.


I avoid them also because the service is so poor. Even on a late weeknight, you can see 95 percent of the aisle closed and ridiculously long lines of people with full carts. Walmart does not treat their customers nor their employees well. Target cares more about the customer experience, imo.


What are other new investments? They might be blowing more money on that, not increased wages


Jet.com


What you say is true, however I think despite there being levels of salaries/pay that are excessive for some employees and studies that indicate that there are better motivators than salary/pay, from what I'd read, Walmart had not been paying employees adequately or giving them adequate training, so anyone who dismissed what they did as "wrong" I think is misinterpreting arguments for high pay as "paying employees more is always right" vs. "in some cases, employers could be providing a better customer experience and encouraging sales and growth longer-term by paying their employees more."

Also, please read:

http://www.keithrull.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/net...

While it's not always applicable, paying more for the best is not a bad idea in dev and IT. Just be sure that you can survive up to 100% of the top people on your dev and IT teams getting replaced by ensuring you have good design, good code, good management, good training, and good documentation.


People who work at Walmart work only for pay. That study is on a different type of worker.


Agreed, OP's title is partly false.


Yes, let's not get too sanguine about the idea of paying workers more money.


Doesn't HN have a policy on linking to articles behind a pay wall?


I think the policy is to hit the "web" link next to the article.


"web"

Wow. That's descriptive.


Sadly, no.


Higher wages means less jobs. So less people will be getting paid more. It will also mean less people will have more responsibility and longer hours.

Employees that have higher skills will get the higher-paying job and the ones with lower skills will have even less of a chance to get a job.


It's sad that we even have jobs so below to poverty line, reliant on social aid programs to live. Someone working 40 hours a week should not be on government aid. Unfortunately for Walmart's terrible pay (and the terrible minimum wage in general), it's quite common.

My fiancee has been steadily employed by a different retail chain and was on Medicaid/etc because of the useless minimum wage pay.

Now we're double income (along with a moderate engineer pay), so she no longer needs that, thankfully.


Walmart pays above minimum wage for nearly every position:

https://www.glassdoor.com/Hourly-Pay/Walmart-Hourly-Pay-E715...

"Someone working 40 hours a week should not be on government aid."

This has nothing to do with Walmart, because they pay above minimum wage.

If you have 3 kids (a personal choice) and have no choice but to work at Walmart (because of a lack of skills), and you are forced to get government assistance, you need to start re-evaluating your personal choices.

The problem is that everybody has different needs and should make decision accordingly. Many people make bad personal choices and can't support themselves on the standard, minimum wage. The healthcare system does need to be fixed, but also needs to be more stress on personal responsibility.

"My fiancee has been steadily employed by a different retail chain and was on Medicaid/etc because of the useless minimum wage pay."

I have a hard time believing she was getting minimum wage. My Wife has worked at almost every single retail chain stocking and doing other various jobs and has always gotten paid more than minimum wage.

All of the fast food chains and most retail stores in my area pay at least $2/hour above minimum wage. The reason is because market competition has pushed the wages up and they wouldn't be able to find many workers at anything less.


> you need to start re-evaluating your personal choices

Note that at that point, you have essentially no option. You can't retrain because the Government is entirely unwilling to look after your family while you do, and you can't save money on retail wages to be able to quit your job to retrain. You're stuck until your children are able to support themselves.


"You can't retrain because the Government is entirely unwilling to look after your family while you do,"

So the answer is to just shrug our shoulders and make it easier and easier for more people to get themselves into the situation because the government or the taxpayers will bail them out?

Why is this the job of the government? If this is the case, I, the taxpayer, should have a lot more control over the people that decide they need me to pay for their kids while they retrain. The government should have complete control over the family and money decisions (IE: no drugs, alcohol, or expensive gadgets) while on the dole.

The people that do the right thing and make better personal choices always seem to get punished these days. I don't have a problem using some of my tax dollars to help the needy (I donate money every year to the poor), but when there are egregious abuses of the system, we should have some say in how our money is spent.


How about making it easier for people to get themselves out of the situation?

It is the job of the government if people decide it is the job of the government to provide a safety net.

And it ought to be in part on the assumption that a proportion of those who finds themselves in such as situation either is there without fault and/or want to improve and stop being a drain on the taxpayer. Investing in their future is also investing in increased tax revenue and reduced future benefits payments.


> So the answer is to just shrug our shoulders and make it easier and easier for more people to get themselves into the situation because the government or the taxpayers will bail them out?

It's already easy to get into a situation where you get stuck working paycheck-to-paycheck and can't get out of it. Very, very easy. What's your solution for people who are actually in this situation?

Also, your country's obsession with controlling people on the dole is insane. In pretty much the entirety of the rest of the world, people get money and are expected to spend it on housing, food, and a little bit left over to spend on things to keep mentally healthy. If it turns out they can't manage that, then money can be sent directly to your landlord and municipal-funded organisations can come in to help you sort your llife out.




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