Special Report

Companies Paying Americans the Least

4. Target Corp.  (NYSE: TGT)
> U.S. workforce: 333,722 (August)
> CEO compensation: $13.0 million
> Revenue: $72.6 billion
> Net income: $2.0 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 1,793

The number of Target employees fluctuates seasonally. During the peak holiday season, at the end of the year, employment surges. Until last year, when the company expanded into Canada, Target operated exclusively in the U.S. The average sales floor team member at Target earns just $8.85 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com. Target defenders might point to the fact that a sales floor team leader earns almost $15 per hour, on average and that eligible employees receive important benefits such as health insurance and a 401(k) plan. In response to shareholder concerns, Target tweaked its CEO compensation package for 2013. Despite the adjustments, CEO Gregg Steinhafel earned almost $13 million last year before his resignation in the wake of a data breach that roiled the company.

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3. The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR)
> U.S. workforce: 375,000
> CEO compensation: $12.8 million
> Revenue: $23.2 billion
> Net income: $422 million
> No. of U.S. stores: 3,746

Kroger’s roughly 375,000 employees are described by the company as its “most enduring strength.” Shareholders and executives, however, clearly receive far greater compensation than ordinary Kroger associates. As of 2013, Kroger had paid shareholders nearly $2 billion in total dividends since 2006. And CEO David Dillon’s salary was $1,370,000 in 2013, excluding bonuses and other benefits, which amounted to a total compensation of nearly $13 million. According to Glassdoor.com, an average cashier working at Kroger receives an hourly wage of $8.41, while the average courtesy clerk earns $7.75 an hour. However, unlike most retail workers, the majority of the company’s employees are part of collective bargaining agreements facilitated by local unions.

2. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD)
> U.S. workforce: 725,406 (est.)
> CEO compensation: $9.5 million
> Revenue: $28.1 billion
> Net income: $5.6 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 14,278

Like several other companies paying Americans the least, most of McDonald’s restaurants are franchises, which means McDonald’s Corporation is not directly responsible for many workers’ pay. Including in its franchises, McDonald’s employed roughly 1.8 million employees worldwide. While the average crew member at McDonald’s reported earning $8.09 an hour on Glassdoor.com, CEO Donald Thompson’s compensation last year totalled $9.5 million. McDonald’s employees and other fast food workers across the country have repeatedly held one-day strikes in recent years in an ongoing effort to raise wages to $15 per hour. Protests have been unsuccessful so far. With McDonald’s reporting a 3.3% year-over-year decline in U.S. comparable sales in its most recent quarter, executives are perhaps less likely than ever to raise employee wages.

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1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
> U.S. workforce: 1.4 million
> CEO compensation: $5.6 million
> Revenue: $476.3 billion
> Net income: $16.0 billion
> No. of U.S. stores: 4,990

Walmart is run by America’s wealthiest family, and it employs more people than any other public company in the world. The majority of the company’s 2.2 million employees, as of last year, worked in the United States. Walmart’s U.S. workforce of roughly 1.4 million dwarfs that of every other American business. Walmart reported revenues of $476.3 billion last year, the largest of any retailer worldwide, as well as roughly $16 billion in net income. Walmart’s financial success has frequently been attributed, at least in part, to its workers’ low wages. While Walmart may benefit from the low wages it pays its employees, taxpayers may not. According to several studies, Walmart employees are among the most likely to rely on government subsidies and assistance programs.