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Wal-Mart Could Hike Pay and Keep Prices Low

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"The more important question for the future isn't whether Wal-Mart is a force for good or evil in the American economy, but whether the economic benefits provided by Wal-Mart can be preserved even if their labor compensation is dramatically improved," economists Jared Bernstein and Josh Bivens wrote.

Emily Kaiser, Reuters/Corporate Watch

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. could significantly increase employee wages and benefits without raising prices, and still earn a healthy -- albeit smaller -- profit, research released (recently) concluded.

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The Economic Policy Institute study comes as the world's biggest retailer faces a barrage of criticism from labor unions, politicians and community activists, who say it pays poverty-level wages and drives competitors out of business.

Wal-Mart, which has taken steps to improve its health care and other benefits, argues that its low prices boost consumers' buying power and increase their standard of living. The retailer regularly cites a Global Insight study that found Wal-Mart saves U.S. families more than $2,000 per year.

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