DC officials are furious as Walmart has reneged on a promise to build stores in lower-income areas of the city. Walmart announced last week that they will be shuttering 269 stores throughout the world. (The already-existing three DC stores will remain open.) The company cited the unexpectedly high building and labor costs as to why they would not move forward with the additional locations, but was more open in a meeting as to how DC's labor laws, including its higher minimum wage, are making it harder to operate a business.
From the Washington Post:
Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), head of the council’s finance committee, sat in on the meeting Friday morning with Walmart officials and Brian Kenner, Bowser’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development.
Evans said that, behind closed doors, Walmart officials were more frank about the reasons the company was downsizing. He said the company cited the District’s rising minimum wage, now at $11.50 an hour and possibly going to $15 an hour if a proposed ballot measure is successful in November. He also said a proposal for legislation requiring D.C. employers to pay into a fund for family and medical leave for employees, and another effort to require a minimum amount of hours for hourly workers were compounding costs and concerns for the retailer.
“They were saying, ‘How are we going to run the three stores we have, let alone build two more?’ ” Evans said.
Honestly, this is a shame. The two locations would have created hundreds of jobs in an area that desperately needs them, and having a job that pays $8.80 an hour (which is what I was paid when I was employed as a cashier at Walmart in 2011 and 2012) is certainly better than having no job and getting paid $0.00 an hour. Additionally, the presence of a supercenter (which carries grocery items) would have put a low-cost grocery store smack in the middle of a food desert. Now, thanks in-part to DC's regulations, none of this is going to happen.
It's been shown again and again that minimum wage increases hurt the very people they're intended to help. This is proof.
This post has been updated.