Study: Wal-Mart Is Not An Economic Engine

January 11, 2010

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A new study says that the only Wal-Mart in Chicago is neither improving retail nor job activity in the surrounding community.

Researchers say Wal-Mart has displaced businesses, and any new jobs created cancel out the lost jobs.

The controversial retailer opened on the city's West Side a few years ago. Among the concerns were that the rural big-box wouldn't adapt in a new urban setting.

University of Illinois-Chicago's David Merriman says there's been no economic growth since Wal-Mart came to town.

MERRIMAN: It won't fundamentally change the total amount of employment in the city. And I think that policymakers shouldn't see Wal-Mart as a panacea for employment problems.

Merriman says 300 jobs were lost in surrounding zip codes.

Wal-Mart officials counter that several new businesses opened on the West Side as a result of its store opening. Wal-Mart is pushing for a second store on the South Side.