Walmart Needs to Be Held Accountable for Displacing American Jobs

An American flag flies near signage displayed outside of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. headquarters building in Bentonville, Arkan
An American flag flies near signage displayed outside of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. headquarters building in Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S., on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figured on Aug. 18. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

To great fanfare and media coverage, Walmart announced three years ago its "U.S. manufacturing initiative" and, in the years since, the company regularly likes to tout its commitment to "American renewal" and to buying American made products.

Unfortunately, a closer look at the company's real record shows that it has actually been sending hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas at the very same time it has touted these programs to the American people.

This is a constant pattern from irresponsible companies, like Walmart, who use public relations to tout new initiatives while counting on the media to never fact-check these statements or investigate these programs.

The brutal truth, as a report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found, is that Walmart is to blame for the loss of plenty of good American jobs.

EPI found that the Walmart based trade deficit with just China eliminated or displaced over 400,000 U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2013, with 314,500 of those jobs coming from the manufacturing sector, which tend to provide higher wages and better benefits. In that same time frame, Chinese imports entering through Walmart likely totaled at least $49.1 billion.

These are more than just statistics: These are real people and families who have been devastated by Walmart's failure to keep its word to the very group that makes them profitable -- the American people.

The EPI report comes in the same year as Walmart has come under scrutiny for both skirting American taxes and falsely claiming products are American made. In July, Americans for Tax Fairness found that Walmart has built a vast, undisclosed network of subsidiaries and branches in tax havens that can be used to avoid U.S. taxes on foreign earnings.

To add insult to injury, the nonprofit organization Truth in Advertising found more than 100 instances of Walmart claiming products on its website as "Made in the USA," despite these goods actually having foreign origins.

It would be bad enough to know that Walmart is destroying American jobs, but the jobs it does create are not the good jobs they like to publicly profess. The fact is that hundreds of thousands of its employees are paid so poorly that they live in poverty and must rely on government assistance such as food stamps to get by.

Even worse, while Walmart highlights its wage increase for employees in commercials, the reality is that many have not seen any increase or have seen their hours cut.

Walmart must be held to its word, and be held accountable when they mislead the American people.

It's why the time has come for Congress -- Republican and Democratic members alike -- to investigate why one multi-billion dollar company is having such a devastating impact on jobs and our trade deficits.

America's hard-working families, our communities and our taxpayers should not have to pay the price for a company that is unwilling to change for the better. If we want Walmart to help create good American jobs, it's time we start holding them accountable when they do not.