Jeff Bezos, New York 2019

Taxpayers Help Pay Low-Wage Workers at Amazon, Walmart, and McDonald’s

They are among the wealthiest companies on the planet, but they pay some full-time workers such low wages these employees have to seek federal and state programs that come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

Richest companies don’t pay a living wage, so taxpayers foot the difference

Some of the wealthiest and most profitable companies on the planet, such as Amazon, Walmart, and McDonald’s, fail to pay some of their workers living wages. Even though these employees work full-time, they still can’t afford food, rent, healthcare, and the cost of other daily necessities of life.

How do these workers make ends meet? US taxpayers

Many full-time workers at America’s wealthiest companies who don’t receive a living wage are forced to apply and qualify for federal and state assistance programs to afford food and healthcare, an op-ed piece at Bloomberg reported.

But such assistance doesn’t come free. And instead of coming out of the pockets of these huge companies that rake in enormous profits each year, the burden and expense are shifted to American taxpayers who fund government assistance programs through money deducted from their paychecks.

Bloomberg journalists Nir Kaissar and Timothy L. O’Brien wrote: “In short, corporate America is pawning off the cost of rock-bottom wages on taxpayers.”

Amazon in the crosshairs

The Bloomberg writers mainly took issue with Amazon, writing: “Consider Amazon, a $1.6 trillion conglomerate the stock market considers to be the fourth-most-valuable business in the world.”

“It earned $21 billion last year, more than all but six of the companies in the S&P 500 Index,” the op-ed authors wrote. “Its success has made founder Jeff Bezos, with a net worth of $184 billion, the wealthiest person in the world.”

Bezos made news this past week with his side project, Blue Origin, which launched the 57-year-old billionaire into space.

Afterward, the Amazon founder was criticized by an opinion piece at MSNBC entitled: “Jeff Bezos’ live Blue Origin space launch is the pinnacle of waste.” The article pointed out that Bezos’ Blue Origin has applied for a $10 billion federal contract, which cleared the Senate, which on the surface, appears to be another move by Amazon to siphon money from the government.

After continual criticism by former President Donald Trump about how Amazon was taking advantage of the US Postal Service, Amazon began utilizing more of its delivery vehicles.

 Amazon continues to shortchange full-time workers on living wage while Bezos also made headlines again this week. He donated $100 million to CNN’s Van Jones and Chef Jose Andres, saying the pair are free to do “what they want” with the money, CNN reported.

Millions could face lower unemployment benefits or lose them completely

On the subject of taxpayers funding government assistance: millions of Americans have fallen to the rank of the unemployed during the pandemic or were partially bailed out through aid packages. They support Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation that boosted and sustained unemployment beyond its normal “benefit year” limits.

Now, several state and federal programs are set to expire. That means that millions of Americans could see either a lower weekly payment or lose their unemployment benefits altogether, CNBC reported.

Certain workers are reaching the end of their “benefit year.” This is a period at which it has been a year since they applied for assistance, and this marker typically triggers a review by state labor agencies. Each individual situation will be reassessed for qualifications. The unemployed person will either qualify for a new installment of benefits or not. And if so, what amount they receive will also be reassessed. For many, it could be lower.

Unemployment remains high

Although the US is no longer at the spike of 14.8% unemployment it experienced in April 2020; the current 5.9% unemployment is the highest since September 1, 2014, when it reached the same level after gradually falling from a previous high of 9.8% in 2009 following the 2008 financial crisis. 

Unemployment had reached a record-setting low of 3.5% in January 2020 before the pandemic-forced shutdown of the nation’s economy.