BUSINESS

Walmart CEO Mike Duke Pushes Back Against Company's Minimum Wage Reputation

08/23/2013 04:06 pm ET | Updated Aug 26, 2013

Fast food and retail workers across the country have taken to the streets this year to decry their low wages. But the CEO of Walmart, which is often a target for criticism in that battle, claims a very small share of its workers actually make the bare minimum.

“I think less than one percent of our associates make the minimum wage,” Walmart CEO Mike Duke said in an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo. "The vast majority of our associates are paid more than that.”

More specifically, less than one half of one percent of Walmart's hourly associates make their state or federal minimum wage, according to a Walmart spokesman.

The company claims that full-time Walmart workers make $12.78 per hour on average, much more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Yet that figure excludes part-time workers, a group that likely makes up a substantial share of Walmart's workforce, thought not its majority, according to the company.

Some argue that Walmart -- with its $17 billion profit last year -- can afford to pay its workers more and is costing taxpayers by not doing so. According to a study released by Congressional Democrats earlier this year, the low wages at one Walmart store costs taxpayers $900,000 per year, because workers are forced to rely on safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid to get by.

The company also threatened to pull three planned stores in Washington, D.C. after the city council passed a bill earlier this summer requiring big box retailers in the city to pay their workers at least $12.50 an hour.

Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer with more than 1.3 million workers.

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