Special Report

Companies Paying Americans the Least


Based on the methodology used by the National Employment Law Project, an employment advocacy organization, in its 2012 report, “Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage,” 24/7 Wall St. identified the 13 companies that pay employees the least. These companies are in industries that typically pay low wages.

We first identified the three sectors that have the highest percentages of workers that are paid at or below the minimum wage from the BLS’ Occupational Employment Statistics database and its report, “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2014.” The three sectors — leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and education and health services — together employ 78.6% of all workers paid the minimum wage or less.

Within these sectors, we then identified the 21 industries in which the average wage was at most $11.25 an hour — four dollars above the federal minimum wage — a widely used threshold for poverty.

We identified the 113 lowest paying public U.S. companies within those 21 industries by using the Capital IQ Screening tool, accessed by researcher Brian Zajac on Aug. 8, 2015. The 13 lowest paying companies are the largest employers among the 113 low-paying companies.

Worldwide total, full-time and part-time employee counts, as well as annual revenue figures from the latest three fiscal years for each company also came from Capital IQ. Company information also came from corporate websites and financial documents submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

We reviewed salary information submitted by employees to Glassdoor.com in order to screen any companies where wages for the most common occupations were not either close to or less than $11.25 an hour.

In keeping with the NELP methodology, all employee figures represent system-wide employment, including employees of franchisees. Employee totals also include both full- and part-time workers. Starbucks is an exception. As many other low-wage employers are Starbucks licensees, we only considered company-owned stores to avoid double-counting low-wage workers.

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