Special Report

Companies Paying Americans the Least

4. The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR)
> Global workforce:
> CEO compensation: $13.0 million
> Revenue: $108.5 billion
> No. of U.S. locations: 3,770
> Industry: Food Retail

Of the over 100 companies reviewed, Kroger had the third highest revenue in its most recent fiscal year. The company reported nearly $108.5 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2015, a 9.3% increase from the previous year. Despite growing revenue, two of the most common positions in the company, cashiers and grocery clerks, each are paid an average wage of less than $10 an hour. The lowest paying job at Kroger is that of a courtesy clerk, earning an average hourly wage of $8.04. While the lowest paying jobs at Kroger are hovering just above the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, CEO Rodney McMullen’s compensation has climbed in each of the last three years, from $5 million in fiscal 2013 to $8.9 million in fiscal 2014, to its current level of nearly $13 million.

3. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE:MCD)
> Global workforce:
> CEO compensation: $1.7 million
> Revenue: $27.4 billion
> No. of U.S. locations: 14,350
> Industry: Restaurants

McDonald’s, the largest fast food chain in the world, pays its crew members an average hourly wage of $8.24. In New York City, most McDonald’s workers are paid the lowest amount allowed by law, $8 an hour. Wages at the burger restaurant are not just low, but erratic, as employees often work part-time, unpredictable hours. This often means such workers do not qualify for benefits, and together with the low wages increases the likelihood employees will require public assistance programs such as SNAP. And inconsistent schedules make planning particularly challenging. McDonald’s reported revenues in excess of $27 billion in its most recent fiscal year, the largest of any restaurant chain. Earlier this year, McDonald’s hired a new CEO, Stephen Easterbrook. In his first year on the job, Easterbrook is expected to be compensated a reported $1.7 million.

2. Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM)
> Global workforce:
> CEO compensation: $5.0 million
> Revenue: $13.3 billion
> No. of U.S. locations: 18,225
> Industry: Restaurants

The vast majority of employees at Yum! Brands, which operates restaurant chains KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, are part-time, hourly-paid workers. While many Pizza Hut employees are paid tips in addition to their ordinary wages, employers are not responsible for this portion of a worker’s wage. Still, even including tips, the average total compensation of a Pizza Hut delivery driver, for example, was just over $20,000 annually. Taco Bell and KFC workers frequently earn even lower wages. Yum! Brands is one of the nation’s largest employers. With so many employees making wages at or below the poverty level, workers, like many others in the fast-food industry, have gone on strikes and staged walkouts over the past several years.

1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT)
> Global workforce:
2.2 million (1.4 million US)
> CEO compensation: $19.4 million
> Revenue: $485.7 billion
> No. of U.S. locations: 5,321
> Industry: Hypermarkets and Supercenters

Walmart is the largest company by revenue, with a reported $485.7 billion in revenue last year. Walmart is also by far the nation’s and the world’s largest employer, employing more than 2.2 million people. About 1.3 million of those work in the United States. While out of the retailer behemoth’s 11,453 total locations 6,290 are outside the United States, Walmart’s U.S. presence is nearly ubiquitous. There are at least five Walmart stores in every state, and most states have more than 100 Walmart locations. Walmart is the largest low paying company, paying an average of less than $10 per hour to its sales associates. In contrast, CEO Douglas McMillon’s total compensation in 2014 was $19.4 million.

Unlike most CEO wages, however, McMillon’s compensation declined by nearly 32% from the previous fiscal year. In addition, the company recently announced it would pay even its lowest-paid workers at least $9 per hour, above the minimum wage but still well below what many researchers consider adequate pay.

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