32 Lowest Paying Companies

September 16, 2019 by Evan Comen

Debate in recent years over rising income inequality and poverty in America has taken center stage in political discourse and led to a number of new labor policies in both the public and private spheres. Major retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart — the largest employer in 22 states — announced wage raises in the past two years, and in July, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 — more than doubling the current minimum of $7.25 an hour.

Despite the recent achievements in improving low wages, there are a number of companies today that pay near-poverty wages to a large share of their workers. According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank Economic Policy Institute, 11.4% of full-time workers earn wages that would be considered below the poverty line for a family.

To identify the 32 companies paying Americans the least, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average annual salary of more than 1,300 companies using data from compensation data company PayScale. We identified 32 companies that pay their workers an average salary of $41,000 a year or less.

Click here to see the full list of the 32 lowest paying companies
Click here to read our detailed findings and methodology

Source: Joshua Blanchard / Getty Images

32. Taco Bell Corporation
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Area operations manager ($65,258)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Assistant general manager ($33,093)
> Industry: Restaurant

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Source: Nexstar

31. Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Chief engineer ($69,148)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Television newscast director ($32,908)
> Industry: Media

Source: Matt Cardy / Getty Images

30. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Corporation
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: District operations manager ($56,076)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Assistant manager ($32,855)
> Industry: Restaurant

Source: Healthcare Services Group

29. Healthcare Services Group, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Regional manager ($76,205)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Account manager ($32,244)
> Industry: Health care

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Source: Keller Williams Realty

28. Keller Williams Realty, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Realtor ($64,354)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Real estate assistant ($32,164)
> Industry: Real estate

Source: Wolterk / iStock

27. Hardee’s
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: District operations manager ($63,384)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Assistant manager ($27,465)
> Industry: Restaurant

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Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images

26. International Dairy Queen, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Operations manager ($44,737)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Assistant manager ($26,790)
> Industry: Restaurant

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

25. Denny’s
> Avg. salary: $41,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Operations manager ($48,974)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Server ($22,036)
> Industry: Restaurant

Source: Total Quality Logistics

24. Total Quality Logistics, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $40,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Recruiter ($41,447)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Inside sales representative ($36,500)
> Industry: Transportation & warehousing

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23. Home Instead Senior Home Care
> Avg. salary: $40,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Operations manager ($55,923)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Care coordinator ($35,999)
> Industry: Health care

Source: Andrew Burton / Getty Images

22. Dunkin’ Donuts
> Avg. salary: $40,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Director of operations ($78,093)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Store manager ($35,775)
> Industry: Restaurant

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Source: Raycom Media

21. Raycom Media, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $40,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: News anchor ($66,927)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Account executive ($34,503)
> Industry: Media

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

20. Papa John’s Pizza
> Avg. salary: $40,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Director of operations ($81,216)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Restaurant assistant manager ($30,255)
> Industry: Restaurant

Source: chapin3 / Getty Images

19. Texas Roadhouse, Inc
> Avg. salary: $40,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Restaurant manager ($41,353)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Server ($21,421)
> Industry: Restaurant

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Source: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

18. Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc
> Avg. salary: $39,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: General manager ($43,602)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Assistant manager ($31,834)
> Industry: Restaurant

17. Zaxby’s
> Avg. salary: $39,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: District operations manager ($56,240)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Restaurant assistant manager ($29,735)
> Industry: Restaurant

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

16. Hampton Inn
> Avg. salary: $38,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Chief engineer ($60,278)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Front office manager ($31,362)
> Industry: Accommodations

Source: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

15. Pizza Hut, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $38,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: District operations manager ($63,107)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Restaurant assistant manager ($30,241)
> Industry: Restaurant

Source: J. Michael Jones / Getty Images

14. Bojangles, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $37,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: General manager ($41,586)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Assistant manager ($30,523)
> Industry: Restaurant

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Source: David Silverman / Getty Images

13. Burger King Corporation
> Avg. salary: $37,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Director of operations ($84,063)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Restaurant assistant manager ($30,050)
> Industry: Restaurant

12. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
> Avg. salary: $37,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Operations manager ($56,987)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Restaurant assistant manager ($28,647)
> Industry: Restaurant

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11. Express Employment Professionals
> Avg. salary: $36,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Business development manager ($48,509)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Staffing consultant ($33,164)
> Industry: Staffing

Source: Courtesy of Gray Television

10. Gray Communications
> Avg. salary: $36,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: News anchor ($58,254)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: News reporter ($29,195)
> Industry: Media

9. Holiday Inn Express
> Avg. salary: $36,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Director of sales ($47,757)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Executive housekeeper ($29,181)
> Industry: Accommodations

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Source: Fastenal

8. Fastenal Company
> Avg. salary: $35,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Tractor-trailer truck driver ($52,415)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Account specialist ($31,482)
> Industry: Construction

Source: Catrin Haze / iStock

7. Anytime Fitness, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $34,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Fitness manager ($38,260)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Gym manager ($28,964)
> Industry: Fitness Center

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Source: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

6. Subway Restaurant Inc
> Avg. salary: $34,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Director of operations ($65,214)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Restaurant manager ($27,911)
> Industry: Restaurant

5. Massage Envy
> Avg. salary: $31,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Operations manager ($54,164)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Massage therapist ($26,910)
> Industry: Recreation

Source: Great Clips

4. Great Clips, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $27,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Salon manager ($34,918)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Cosmetologist ($23,002)
> Industry: Hair salon

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Source: Allied Universal

3. Allied Universal Corporation
> Avg. salary: $26,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Security director ($60,705)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Security officer ($28,910)
> Industry: Security

Source: Securitas Security Services USA

2. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.
> Avg. salary: $26,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Operations manager ($63,925)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Security officer ($27,157)
> Industry: Security

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Source: G4S Security Services

1. G4S Security Services
> Avg. salary: $26,000
> Position with highest avg. salary: Operations manager ($54,674)
> Position with lowest avg. salary: Security officer ($26,164)
> Industry: Security

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.

Methodology

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.