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These Big-Name Companies Still Pay Most Workers Under $15 an Hour

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Working Stiffed

Ten states have or are planning to institute a mandatory minimum wage of $15 an hour, and California just enacted a law on Labor Day that creating the first-in-the-nation fast food council for chains like McDonald's and Taco Bell that will set minimum wage standards — perhaps as high as $22 an hour. Laws like these are necessary because not every employer has met what many think of as a more-realistic living wage. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, these major chains have the largest percentages of workers making less than $15 an hour.


Related: Big-Name Companies Paying at Least $15 an Hour

Papa John's Restaurant Exterior
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Papa John's

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 70%


Tip your pizza delivery person well. At Papa John's, at least, there's a pretty significant chance the driver is making under $15. In fact, 16% of Papa John's hourly workers make under $10 an hour, according to the Economic Policy Institute data. Only 5% make more than $20.


Related: The Most and Least Affordable Cities for Minimum-Wage Earners

Chick-fil-A chicken restaurant. Despite ongoing controversy, Chick-fil-A is wildly popular II
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Chick-fil-A

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 72%


The person saying "my pleasure" and handing you your crispy chicken sandwich probably isn't making much. Twenty-seven percent of workers make $10-$12 an hour, and only 4% make at least $20 an hour.


Related: Best (and Worst) Fast-Food Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut by Frank Vincentz (CC BY-SA)

Pizza Hut

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 75%


Working for Pizza Hut can be less than lucrative — 25% of hourly workers make less than $10 an hour. Only 8% make at least $20 an hour. The CEO, however, makes $8.65 million a year, not including stocks and other perks.

Subway
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Subway

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 78%


Though its motto is "Eat fresh," Subway workers all too often make less. The highest proportion of the chain's hourly workers (24%) make $10-$12 an hour, and 23% make less than $10. Only 3% make at least $20 an hour.

Taco Bell
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Taco Bell

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 81%


It's hard to live mas on what Taco Bell pays. The highest proportion to workers (31%) makes $10 to $12 an hour. The CEO's base salary is just a little bit higher: $8.65 million a year.

Burger King restaurant
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Burger King

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 83%


Workers at Burger King may not feel like royalty when it comes to pay. Thirty percent make $10 to $12 an hour. The CEO's base pay is a little more regal at $4.7 million.

Original Arby's in Hollywood
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Arby's

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 84%


They have the meats, but not the cash. The highest proportion of Arby's workers (35%) makes $10 to $12 an hour. Only 1% make at least $20 an hour.

Sonic Drive-In Restaurant
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Sonic

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 85%


At Sonic, the highest proportion of employees (32%) makes $10 to $12 an hour. Only 2% make at least $20 an hour.

Wendy's SuperBar
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Wendy's

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 87%


A third of Wendy's workforce (34%) makes $10-$12 an hour, while only 2% make at least $20 an hour — and the CEO has a base salary of $1.05 million.

McDonald Bench
McDonald Bench by Simon Burchell (CC BY-SA)

McDonald's

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 89%


Working at the Golden Arches can mean earning a less-than-golden paycheck. Thirty-five percent of workers make $10-$12 an hour, while 1% make at least $20 an hour.

ACE Hardware store
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Ace Hardware

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 71%


Apparently, Ace is the place … to make a low hourly wage. A considerable 27% of hourly workers make $10-$12 an hour. Just 5% make at least $20.

Gap
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Gap

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 72%


Fall into the Gap — or, if you work for this retailer, the wage gap. A substantial 42% of hourly workers make only $10-$12 an hour, and only 11% make at least $20 an hour. The CEO, however, makes $3.56 million a year — not including stock awards and other perks.

Tractor Supply Co.
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Tractor Supply Co.

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 74%


Thirty-one percent of Tractor Supply workers make $12 to $14 an hour, while 29% make $10 to $12. The CEO, meanwhile, makes $12 million a year in base salary alone.

Meijer Retail Location. Meijer is a large supercenter type retailer with over 200 locations.
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Meijer

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 77%


Working for Meijer can mean a major disappointment when you get your first paycheck. Fourteen percent of workers make $10 to $12 an hour, and 42% earn $12 to $14. Only 5% of hourly employees make at least $20 an hour.

First Food Lion
First Food Lion by Mike Kalasnik (CC BY-SA)

Food Lion

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 77%


There's not much to roar about when it comes to Food Lion's wages. The highest percentage of workers makes $10-$12 an hour (33%) and just 3% make at least $20 an hour.

Beautiful big building of Hotel Hilton
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Best Western

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 77%


You may get a cheap room at Best Western, but it probably comes at the cost of employee pay. Fifteen percent of hourly workers make less than $10 an hour, and only 4% bring in at least $20 an hour.

Kohl's
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Kohl's

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 78%


The biggest proportion of Kohl's workers (41%) make $10-$12 an hour. The CEO, however, makes a base salary of $12.65 million a year. Only 3% of workers make at least $20 an hour.

Big Lots
Big Lots by Mike Kalasnik (CC BY-SA)

Big Lots

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 80%


At Big Lots, 7% of hourly workers make below $10 an hour and 31% make $10 to $12 an hour. Three percent make at least $20 an hour, while the CEO makes a base salary of $5.27 million a year.

Bath & Body Works
Bath & Body Works by Rowanlovescars (CC BY-SA)

Bath & Body Works

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 80%


The highest proportion of Bath & Body Works hourly workers (38%) makes $12 to $14 an hour. Only 3% make at least $20 an hour. On the bright side, everyone probably gets lots of lotion samples.

Speedway
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Speedway

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 84%


Most workers at this convenience store chain (43%) make $10 to $12 an hour, or $12 to $14 an hour (22%). Far fewer (2%) make at least $20 an hour.

Marshall’s Store in Pittsburgh
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Marshalls

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 85%


The most employees (46%) at this discounter work for $10 to $12 an hour, while just 3% make at least $20 an hour. The CEO doesn't get a cut rate, however: The base salary for that position is $14.56 million a year.

Ross Dress for Less Retail Store. Ross Stores continues its aggressive expansion.
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Ross

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 86%


Employees may not have a choice but to "dress for less" when they work here. Forty percent of workers make $10 to $12 an hour, while only 1% make at least $20 an hour. The CEO base salary is $15.53 million.

Levent, Istanbul, Turkey
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Wyndham

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 87%


At this international hotel chain, a surprising proportion of workers (22%) makes less than $10 an hour, and 34% make $10-$12. Only 1% are above the $20 mark.

Dollar General
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Dollar General

Hourly workers making less than $15 an hour: 92%


This dollar-store giant has the dubious distinction of the most hourly workers under the $15-an-hour mark. The highest proportion of workers (35%) make $10-$12 an hour. What may be most unnerving, though, is what the CEO takes home in salary: $58.54 million a year. 

Amazon.com Fulfillment Center. Amazon is the Largest Internet-Based Retailer in the United States
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The Companies With the Fewest Workers Below $15 an Hour

The news isn't all bad. At several well-known companies, at least 86% of employees make $15 an hour or more. Only 1% of employees at Costco and Whole Foods make less than that benchmark, and at Amazon, no employee makes less than $15 an hour.

  • Amazon: No employee makes under $15 an hour.
  • Whole Foods: 1% of employees make under $15 an hour.
  • Costco: 1% of employees make under $15 an hour.
  • Target: 3% of employees make under $15 an hour.
  • In-N-Out Burger: 9% of employees make under $15 an hour.
  • DHL: 9% of employees make under $15 an hour.
  • UPS: 10% of employees make under $15 an hour.
  • FedEx: 14% of employees make under $15 an hour.