Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wal-Mart's Economic Impact

In an editorial today, the NY Sun highlights this paper presented at the recent Wal-Mart-themed economic conference that points out the how the retailer has benefited the economy by creating jobs and lowering prices. The Sun beams:

The year-long study concluded that "A full accounting of Wal-Mart's impact using Global Insight's modeling framework finds that Wal-Mart has generated a positive net economic impact on the U.S. economy."
What the Sun fails to mention is that this study, commissioned by Wal-Mart and conducted by the firm running the conference, was juxtaposed with a number of other independent reports that demonstrated the retailer’s negative economic effects. We have already mentioned Dr. Neumark's analysis which concludes that when Wal-Mart situates in an area it lowers wages and employment. Another economist determined that Wal-Mart’s entry results in an increased use of state-subsidized programs to the tune of $898 per person. Still another questioned the Global Insight paper’s methodology.

The Sun needs to be careful before picking and choosing which evidence it wants to present. Though the conference did highlight certain benefits of Wal-Mart, it also brought up a number of questions about whether the company is as economically beneficial as some claim, a fact very relevant to the retailer's desired entry into New York.