The Walmart deal that was passed in the Chicago City Council has been heralded as an example of compromise that will give relief to the West Pullman area, the city's most job-starved neighborhood.
Walmart compromised by raising its starting wage to $8.75 per hour for workers, with the assurance of a 40 cent per hour minimum raise after one year. Labor leaders and elected officials have compromised on their formerly implacable opposition to the retail giant.
Sounds great, right?
But there's a hitch: Even with the money from their jobs, many new employees will be earning so little that they still qualify for public benefits like food stamps.
In 2008, the last year for which data are available, nearly one in four families in the group of neighborhoods that includes Pullman, Riverdale, Roseland and West Pullman received food stamps, according to a Chicago Reporter analyis of census data.
But all households with two or more people, including a full-time Walmart employee, could still qualify for food stamps.
That worker would make $17,500 with the initial salary, and $18,300 after a 40 cent raise. The threshold for a family of two to receive food stamps in Illinois is $18,948, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services.
For the area's average family size of 3.5, if one person was working, that person would need to make more than $11.91 per hour to be above food stamps threshold.
--Rebecca Freitag and Jeff Kelly Lowenstein