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What Do Quarterly Workforce Dynamics Tell Us About Wal-Mart? Evidence from New Stores in Pennsylvania


  • Michael J. Hicks

    (Air Force Institute of Technology)


In this paper I seek to better inform debate regarding Wal-Mart’s local impact on wages, and employment dynamics by combining data on Wal-Mart stores with the recently release Quarterly Workforce Indicators provided by the US Census. Use a panel of Pennsylvania counties, who saw entrance of a Wal-Mart in 2002, I find a new store has no effect on existing employee wages in the retail sector. However, new retail sector hires experience a roughly $0.50 an hour increase in total compensation in the quarter Wal-Mart enters. The entrance of a Wal- Mart draws employees from existing businesses, reducing job creation while increasing net job flows. Wal-Mart also has a longer term effect on net employment of a little more than 50 jobs in a total year. This employment finding is quite similar to findings in Hicks and Wilburn [2001] and Basker [2005]. Perhaps most importantly, Wal-Mart entrance is associated with a dramatic decline in retail sector job turnovers (over 40 percent). This result challenges much of the received wisdom of Wal-Mart’s role in the retail sector. The policy implications of these findings echo those of Ken Stone, who cautions against activist policy in support, or against Wal-Mart at the local level. Disclosure: The author of this study owns no stock in Wal-Mart or any related firm (other than that held by the mutual fund companies Vanguard and TIAA-CREF). I have performed no paid consulting services from any retail firm, its developers, local governments or related entities since 2002 (though I continue to field frequent questions on my earlier research). I have received no honoraria related to Wal-Mart research (other than travel costs paid by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in 2001). In short, except for roughly $1,500 purchases of diapers annual since 1999 I have no financial relationship with Wal-Mart or any affiliate that I am aware of.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael J. Hicks, 2005. "What Do Quarterly Workforce Dynamics Tell Us About Wal-Mart? Evidence from New Stores in Pennsylvania," Urban/Regional 0511010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpur:0511010
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
    2. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932.
    3. Stone, Kenneth E., 1995. "Competing With the Retail Giants," Staff General Research Papers Archive 5307, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Barnes, Nora Ganim & Connell, Allison & Hermenegildo, Lisa & Mattson, Lucinda, 1996. "Regional differences in the economic impact of Wal-Mart," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 21-25.
    5. John M. Abowd & Robert H. Creecy & Francis Kramarz, 2002. "Computing Person and Firm Effects Using Linked Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Stephan J. Goetz & Hema Swaminathan, 2006. "Wal‐Mart and County‐Wide Poverty," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 87(2), pages 211-226, June.
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    More about this item


    Wal-Mart; Pennsylvania; Quarterly Workforce Indicators;

    JEL classification:

    • R - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics


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