America's favorite big-box retailer may be responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands of US jobs since 2001, Fortune reports. According to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute, Walmart's importing of cheap Chinese goods resulted in the elimination of 400,000 American jobs between 2001 and 2013 by increasing the US' trade deficit with China. It's an estimate the EPI calls "conservative." About three-quarters of those lost jobs were likely manufacturing jobs, Fortune reports. "These job losses are particularly destructive because jobs in the manufacturing sector pay higher wages and provide better benefits than most other industries, especially for workers with less than a college education," the study states. The EPI estimates Walmart is responsible for more than 15% of the trade deficit growth from 2001 to 2013, costing 3.2 million US jobs.
Fortune reports the EPI's study is based on a 2007 report and—because Walmart doesn't release specifics on its imports—"guesswork." Needless to say, Walmart disagrees with the EPI's findings. "Unfortunately, this is an old report with flawed economic analysis that assumed that imports equal job losses and does not take into consideration that countless jobs are added," Fortune quotes a Walmart statement. Economists agree, pointing to retail and transportation jobs created by importing goods, according to the New York Times. In 2013, Walmart announced it would increase its use of American-made goods by $50 billion over the next decade. But the EPI counters that Walmart's importing of Chinese goods has cost 100 US jobs for every one American job it creates with that program. (Read more Walmart stories.)