Around a year ago we asked the question, is Wal-Mart evil? This goes along with a more recent question: are we getting poorer or does it just FEEL that way? A recent study shows that if there?s a Wal-Mart nearby, it’s probably TRUE.

University of Nebraska researcher Azzeddine Azzam discovered that in Nebraska, counties where a Wal-Mart is located have experienced on average a slower growth in standard of living than counties without one. compared how growth in household income from 1979 to 2002 differed between 19 counties with Wal-Marts and 74 without. Azzam says, “There is a Wal-Mart effect, but we don’t completely understand it.

“This isn’t necessarily cause and effect. Wal-Mart is a manifestation of the restructuring going on in the U.S. economy?It’s a symptom of the economy, not necessarily a cause.”

Other studies have found that the economic gains from Wal-Mart’s lower prices are more than offset by the effect of its relatively low wages. It’s possible, too, that Wal-Mart’s relatively low wages drive wages down elsewhere in the local job market, Azzam says. According to Wal-Mart’s Web site, which Azzam used to collect information on the store’s presence in Nebraska, Wal-Mart’s 10,300 employees in the state are paid an average of $10.04 an hour.

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