Special Report

Companies Paying Americans the Least

7. Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI)
> U.S. workforce: 202,920 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $4.3 million
> Revenue: $6.3 billion
> Net income: $286 million
> No. of U.S. stores: 2,174

Darden restaurants, parent company of multiple full-service restaurant chains such as Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and — until recently — Red Lobster, reported revenues of $6.3 billion last year. The sale of Red Lobster was completed in July, for $2.1 billion in cash. For many investors, the sale was an outrage, triggering a shareholder lawsuit and contributing heavily to investors’ decision to replace the entire board of the company. While non-employee members of the since-ousted board took home hundreds of thousands of dollars last year, regular employees were hardly paid as well. The average host at Olive Garden earns just $9.45 an hour, according to Glassdoor.com. The sale of Red Lobster may preclude Darden from being on this list in the future. The company reported having more than 206,000 employees in its latest annual report, but on its website it now pegs that number at roughly 150,000 employees.

6. Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD)
> U.S. workforce: 226,000
> CEO compensation: $4.3 million
> Revenue: $36.2 billion
> Net income: -$1.4 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 1,980

Sears Holdings, the parent of both Kmart and Sears as well as the majority owner of Sears Canada, had nearly 275,000 employees at the end of fiscal 2013, the vast majority of which were in the U.S. Like many other customer-facing service industry positions, Sears employees are paid low hourly wages. According to Glassdoor.com, the average sales associate earns $8.45 an hour and the average cashier is paid $8.22 per hour. The company’s four most highly compensated executive officers, on the other hand, were each paid more than $1 million in fiscal 2013. Still, it is unlikely Sears and Kmart employees will see substantial wage increases as the company has struggled to remain profitable. Sears Holdings posted negative operating profits in its last three fiscal years.

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5. Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM)
> U.S. workforce: 632,658 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $14.2 million
> Revenue: $13.1 billion
> Net income: $1.1 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 16,110

In all, including employees at franchises, Yum! Brands employed 1.5 million associates across its chains worldwide. Pay across the company’s various restaurants is typically quite low — the average crew member at Taco Bell reported being paid $8.33 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com. Similarly, Pizza Hut delivery drivers reported an average hourly pay of just $7.62 per hour, not including tips. As of last year, Yum! and its franchisees had far more stores abroad than in the U.S. One of the company’s biggest markets, China, has been especially troubled lately. Sales in the most recent quarter plunged after a TV report uncovered serious food safety violations at a Yum! supplier.

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