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  • Study Paints Wal-Mart In Positive Colors.
    A new study conducted by a University of Missouri at Columbia researcher suggests that contrary to popular opinion, the opening of a Wal-Mart actually creates net employment gains in communities as opposed to costing jobs.

    Emek Basker, a professor of economics at the university, said that when Wal-Mart enters a community, retail employment increases by 100 jobs in the first year, and that half of the gain disappears over the next five years as competing retail establishments exit or eliminate jobs in order to be more competitive. Wholesale employment declines due to Wal-Mart's ownership of its suppliers and its retail outlets, or buyers. The study indicated that while an average of 20 wholesale jobs are lost in Wal-Mart occupied counties, 50 new retail jobs are created.

    According to the study, employment data was scrutinized from 1,749 counties and 2,383 Wal-Marts across the country between 1977 and 1998. Wal-Mart had a store in 75 percent of the counties in the study. Basker examined each store over a 10-year period – from five years before it opened to five years after it opened.

    Basker's study is to be published in the upcoming Review of Economics and Statistics.

    MNB contacted Basker to find out the source of her funding to conduct the study, and she told us that “the study was done as part of my PhD dissertation at MIT. It was not directly funded by anyone (except for some support from MIT). In fact, Wal-Mart did not cooperate with me on any level, so I had to collect all the data (store locations, opening dates) on my own from public sources.”

  • Passage To India? Press reports from India suggest that Wal-Mart has begun conducting studies that would culminate in its opening stores there. While the company is not disclosing its plans or timetable, the initiative is reportedly dependent on how the nation changes its rules about foreign ownership and co-ventures.

  • RFID In Action.Wal-Mart has begun testing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system at seven of its Dallas-area stores, working with eight consumer goods companies to track products in a warehouse and anywhere in the supply chain. The company expects some 100 of its suppliers to be using RFID by January 1.

  • Wal-Mart Bashing In Chicago. More than 300 people attended a rally yesterday in Chicago, at which religious and political leaders as well as labor and community activists and current/former Wal-Mart employees “accused the company of providing low-paying jobs with meager benefits, gobbling up competitors and running roughshod over women and illegal immigrants,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

    The rally was in response to the non-union company’s plans to open two stores in the heavily unionized city.

    One speaker, Rev. Michael Pfleger, framed the debate this way: "I think we have to get away from the mentality that we're just glad to get a job. We've got to stop accepting crumbs as if it's the only thing we're meant to eat. A slave job is a slave job."

  • Wal-Mart To Add To Florida Neighborhood Market Fleet. Florida Today reports that Wal-Mart plans to build two 50,000-sq.-ft. Neighborhood Market stores in the Melbourne, Florida, area – which will continue to ratchet up the pressure on an already struggling Winn-Dixie.

    Currently, Wal-Mart operates about 50 Neighborhood Markets. The closest to Melbourne would be in the Orlando suburbs of Oviedo and Winter Springs.

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