The federal government increased the national minimum hourly wage from $6.55 to $7.25 in 2009. Washington has not made any changes since. While many states have implemented their own minimum wage increases in recent years, how much or how little U.S. workers earn is largely at the discretion of their employers — many of which are major multibillion dollar corporations.
Some of the biggest companies in the country pay their workers relatively little. Low-wage jobs in these companies are almost always hourly, low-skilled positions.
The typical U.S. worker earns $17.81 an hour. In a number of service industries, the median pay is far lower. Gasoline stations and restaurants pay the lowest median wages, with the typical worker earning less than $10 an hour. In bookstores and newsstands, used merchandise stores, department stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, beer, wine, and liquor stores, and grocery stores, the typical worker earns less than $11 an hour.
Most large corporations do not publish the average wage they pay their workers. 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 25 large companies that pay employees the lowest wages.