🚨 🚨 Excited to share my favorite publication yet: new @brookingsmetro report w/ @StatelerLaura @JuliaTDu

"Windfall profits & deadly risks: How the biggest retail companies are compensating #EssentialWorkers during the #COVID19 pandemic"


A 🧵 1/
We ask: are the biggest retail companies in America that are booming during -and b/c of- the pandemic sharing windfall profits w/ workers who are making the least & risking the most? As pandemic worsens, what $ should workers earn, and what *have* they earned during pandemic? 2/
During the pandemic, big retail companies like @amazon @Walmart @Target @HomeDepot @Albertsons have flourished. We looked at 13 top of top 20 retail companies. Together, they earned an EXTRA $16.9 billion in profit this yr compared to last year, a stunning 39%, increase. 3/
Amidst a recession that shuttered >400k small businesses and has left millions of families struggling, the enormous scale of big retail companies position them to prosper. As COVID cases climb to their highest peaks yet, the stock prices for big retail companies are soaring. 4/
Yet w/ few exceptions, frontline retail workers have seen little of these windfall profits. The 13 companies raised pay by an avg of just $1.11/hour extra since the pandemic began -- a 10% increase on top of wages that are often too low to even meet a family’s basic needs. 5/
The total amount that the 13 retail companies gave frontline workers in #COVID19Compensation since the start of the pandemic (b/w hourly pay raise, bonuses & permanent wages) varied widely - from >$4,000 at @BestBuy to just $300 at @CVSHealth & @Walgreens. 6/
Most big companies ended #hazardpay by June, an avg of 134 days ago. As the 6 million+ frontline workers at companies in our analysis approach a dark winter and the deadliest phase of the pandemic yet, not one is being paid #hazardpay. (3 companies permanently raised wages.) 7/
The end to #hazardpay means wages for most retail workers are back to "normal" --> wages so low they put a family of 4 < poverty line. Cashiers make avg of $10/hr at Kroger; Dollar General $8/hr. Starting wage at Walmart & CVS are $11/hour. Only 4 companies have $15/hr wage. 8/
What was striking was not only the *absolute* generosity of companies but the *relative* generosity, compared to financial performance.

Overall, the least generous companies were the ones posting the biggest profit growth. 9/
.@Amazon & @Walmart stand out as especially ungenerous relative to profits. Combined, the two companies earned an *extra* $10.9 billion in profit this year, up 53% & 45%. But their workers were paid below average #COVID19compensation of just $0.95/hr & $0.63/hr. 10/
.@Amazon and @Walmart could have both QUADRUPLED the #hazardpay (which ended this summer) they gave their frontline workers and still have made more profit than last year. In contrast, the wealth of the Walton family is up > $45 billion & wealth of Jeff Bezos up > $70 billion.11/
We rank all 13 companies on the basis of 3 criteria: absolute generosity of their #COVID19compensation, relative generosity compared to profits & starting wage. @BestBuy @Target @HomeDepot come out on top, while @DollarGeneral @Walmart @CVSHealth @amazon are at the bottom. 12/
If ever there was a moment that called for a rebalancing of profits & people, it is now: w/ runaway inequality, a nat'l reckoning on race & extreme sacrifices shouldered by frontline workers putting their lives on line for very low wages. 13/
Our analysis shows that despite pledges to embrace "stakeholder capitalism," most of the big companies we studied are not voluntarily investing in their workers. Policymakers shouldn't wait for companies to do the right thing. Policy change & structural reform is needed. 14/
I hope companies will listen to the words of Jeffrey Reid, a meat clerk at Giant (owned by the Dutch company @AholdDelhaize), who we quote at the end of the report. Jeffrey had this to say when we interviewed him in Oct.

“It’s just a matter of doing right by your workers..."15/
"Just do the right thing. You’re making billions of $, so spread the wealth. Spread it to the people who are responsible for you making billions of $, the people rolling up sleeves every day, making sure that these companies are running. That’s where you need to put the $.”.. 16/
(You can hear from Jeffrey directly on Monday @ @BrookingsInst event about -- and with! -- #essentialworkers. I'll be moderating a panel w/ Jeffrey & two other #EssentialWorkers + keynote remarks from @SenSherrodBrown & fireside chat w/ @MaryKayHenry
brookings.edu/events/beyond-… 17/

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