Special Report

32 Lowest Paying Companies

Detailed Findings

Industries with high employee turnover — such as arts and entertainment, leisure and hospitality, and accommodation and food services — tend to be lower paying. Companies in these industries often employ workers in jobs that are low skilled and require low levels of education, and are therefore they are less incentivized to offer high wages to retain their workers. Of the 32 lowest-paying companies, 15 are restaurants. Other well-represented industries on the list of the lowest paying companies include media, security, health care, and accommodations.

While the average worker at the 32 lowest paying companies earns $41,000 a year or less, there are a number of positions within these companies that pay more than twice that. In 22 of the 32 lowest paying companies, the average employee in the highest-paid position earns more than $50,000 a year. On average, the difference in reported salary between the highest- and lowest-paid positions at the companies on this list is approximately $27,000.

At many of these companies, the salary of the average worker is far outweighed by that of the CEO. According to an analysis by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, the average CEO of a public company earns 144 times the wages of the typical worker. At Denny’s, the CEO earns 233 times the salary of the typical worker, and at Papa John’s Pizza, the CEO earns 614 times the typical worker’s salary. For more on executive compensation, see the CEOs that make 1,000 times more than their employees.


To identify the 32 lowest-paying companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average annual salary of more than 1,300 companies using data from compensation data company PayScale. Companies were ranked based on the average reported salary for all employees. Ties between companies were broken using the average salary of the lowest paid position. Only companies with at least three jobs with published annual salary data were considered. Additionally, nonprofit companies, education providers, and government agencies were excluded. Only jobs with data for annual salary, as opposed to those with annual estimates based on hourly wages, were included in our analysis.