Walmart Jobs Dominate 20 States
If you doubt the impact of Walmart's recent decision to raise its bottom wage from as low as $7.25 to at least $9 an hour, consider this: Walmart is the biggest single employer in 20 of the 50 U.S. states.
If you're job-hunting in Arizona, Florida or Georgia, you're most likely to land at Walmart. If you're looking in Kentucky, Louisiana or Mississippi, Walmart is your best bet. If you want to live in Missouri, Montana, Ohio or North Carolina, Walmart is your likeliest employer.
In sheer numbers, its employee force, which totals about 1.3 million, blankets the entire South and much of the Midwest, and reaches into the western states. That is one striking detail in a new analysis of America's top employers by the financial news website 24/7 Wall St.
The report also highlights the growing importance of medical care in state and national economies. Idaho may be associated with the homely potato, but its biggest employer is the non-profit St. Luke's Health system. The famous Mayo Clinic is Minnesota's top employer, and it also operates clinics and hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Georgia.The report demonstrates the continuing importance of state universities--and their health care centers--as employment engines. Silicon Valley may be the rocket launcher of California's economy, but the University of California is the state's top employer, with almost 200,000 employers working in its far-flung campuses and medical centers. New York City thrives on finance and media companies, but the state as a whole, and its workers, depend on its vast state university system, with 64 campuses, as the biggest employer.
The dominant position of Walmart in the states and the nation underlines the potential impact of the retailer's recent decision to raise wages for its workers to a minimum of $9 an hour by June. Walmart's announcement followed moves by other major American retailers, including Target and Ikea. An organization of workers backed by unions is demanding $15 an hour.
In the end, peer pressure and unflattering publicity may not be as key to higher retail wages as a healthier job market overall.
Walmart has another pressing problem, though: The retailer has grown so huge that it is having trouble finding new lands to conquer. Its last remaining opportunities for growth within the U.S. are in big cities. And in many of those cities, local opposition tends to be stronger, minimum wages higher, and competition for the best job candidates tougher.