The 12 Companies Paying Americans the Least

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The gap between rich and poor is well illustrated by the large multi-billion dollar corporations employing thousands of low-wage workers. With the Great Recession over, not only are many of these companies now hitting record profits, but their executive pay remains spectacularly high. Meanwhile, according to a report released by the National Employment Law Project, the current federal minimum wage the workers are often paid, is worth 30% less than it was in 1968 in terms of purchasing power.

Read: The 12 Companies Paying Americans the Least

Two-thirds of low-wage workers — those that are paid less than $10 an hour — are employed by large corporations with at least 100 employees reports NELP. All of the largest companies in low-wage industries, including McDonald’s, Walmart, and Starbucks own hundreds, even thousands, of stores across the country. Based on NELP’s July 2012 report, “Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage,” 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 12 American companies that pay the least.

These employers fall into one of two categories. They are are either large national restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Starbucks, employing tens of thousands of cashiers and cooks. Seven of the 12 companies fall into this category. The others are large national retailers, employing tens of thousands of cashiers and salespeople, like Walmart, Target, and Sears.

In addition to low wages, many of these companies have a history of poor labor relations that extends beyond underpaying their employees. Long hours, unsafe or unpleasant working conditions, limited benefits and restricting access to full-time work, often accompany minimum wage jobs in many of these companies.

The recession has affected every company on this list. Many used the downturn to explain reductions in employee benefits, long hours, and continued low pay. However, the recession is over for a majority of minimum-wage employers. Nine of the 12 companies on this list have been profitable for the past three years. Of these 12 companies, a full ten had higher revenue compared to 2010.

Despite this fact, improvements in employee benefits or an increase in pay have not materialized for workers at most of the companies on the list.

Based on the National Law Employment Project’s report, 24/7 Wall St. Identified the 12 largest companies in industries that are primarily low-wage employers. The report also provided the most recent available data on the total size of the companies’ workforces, the recent performance of the corporations in terms of revenue and profit, and the highest executive pay at these companies. 24/7 Wall St. also reviewed revenue, income, and the number of stores from company filings.

These are the companies paying Americans the least.