Author: Selena Maranjian | May 16, 2019
More than minimum
A minimum wage hasn't always existed in America. It was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938, setting the minimum at $0.25 per hour. Yes, that's terribly low, but that was many years ago. Adjusting for inflation, it would be about $4.51 per hour today. But today's federal minimum wage is higher, at $7.25, where it has been since 2009, a decade ago.
If you work 40 hours a week at $7.25, you'll make $290 per week, or $15,080 over a year, pre-tax. That's very close to the poverty line of $12,490 for a household of one person and it's below the two-person household poverty line of $16,910.
Fortunately, lots of jobs pay more than the minimum, and often much more. Here are 50 chains that compensate their lower-income workers with more than the minimum or that sport average pay for hourly workers of well above the minimum.
Let's start with Costco (Nasdaq: COST), long known for progressive policies and treating employees well. It recently announced a hike in its minimum wage to $15 per hour, which followed increases in previous years. Hourly workers also now get paid "bonding leave" for parents. As of last year, Costco's employee turnover rate was around 6%, well below the retail average of 16%.
2. Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's was recently named the best employer in America by Forbes magazine. What makes it so great? Well, it likes to promote from within and offers a chance to earn annual increases of 7% to 10%. Then there's its pay. According to Indeed.com, average hourly pay for cashiers and customer service associates starts around $10.96.
3. CVS Health
The starting wage for hourly employees of CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) was hiked to $11 last year. That translates to $22,880 per year for a 40-hour-a-week position. In the same 2018 announcement, the company also introduced four weeks of paid parental leave for full-time workers and announced that though medical and prescription costs rose about 5% year over year, the company would absorb that increase for workers in its company-sponsored health plan without passing it on to employees.
Many jaws dropped last year, when it was revealed that the average manager at the In-N-Out restaurant chain earned more than $160,000 annually. How about the lower-level workers, though? Turns out they fare relatively well, too, able to start at $12 per hour. The company also offers paid vacations, dental and vision coverage, and a 401(k) plan, too -- and not just to full-timers.
Retail giant Target (NYSE: TGT) is upping its minimum wage in the U.S. to $13 per hour next month, aiming to get it to $15 per hour by 2020. That's a big deal, because the company employs a heck of a lot of people -- more than 350,000 throughout the year, with around 100,000 extra workers hired seasonally.
Workers slinging fashion at H&M (NASDAQOTH: HNNMY) locations in America earn an average wage of at least $11 per hour, per data from Indeed.com. Better still, last year the company beefed up its benefits for part-timers, with eligible workers now getting six weeks of paid parental leave, guaranteed minimum hours, and more flexible scheduling. Full-timers get a range of benefits, such as paid vacation time, health insurance, a 401(k) plan, and even fertility assistance coverage and adoption assistance.
Walgreens Boots Alliance (NYSE: WBA) made news late last year, announcing that it would be spending $100 million to boost pay for around 100,000 hourly workers (an average gain of about $1,000 per worker), but that was offset by a reduction in some benefits. For example, those working at least 20 hours per week used to qualify for paid time off, but now they will have to work at least 30 hours per week to qualify, and many retirees will no longer get health insurance coverage. Still, there remain plenty of solid benefits for many employees, such as a 401(k) plan and profit sharing.
E-commerce giant Amazon.com (Nasdaq; AMZN) has raised its minimum wage for workers to $15 per hour. That's a very big deal because the company is probably even bigger than you realize, with more than 600,000 workers. Some worry, though, that it will be shrinking its ranks of workers as its use of automation and robots grows further. The company has said that total automation of order fulfillment at warehouses is likely at least a decade or so away. Meanwhile, the wage hike to $15 an hour will benefit some 250,000 employees and more than 100,000 seasonal workers.
9. Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market also has a new minimum wage of $15, because it's now a subsidiary of Amazon.com. The increase wasn't unilaterally welcomed, though, as some accused the company of reducing part-timers' hours when the rate increased. The company has denied doing that, though. The increase instituted more than a rise in just the minimum: Those who were already earning at least $15 per hour got a $1-per-hour raise, while team leaders got a $2-per-hour increase.
10. Bank of America
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has gone well beyond the $15-per-hour minimum, with a plan to raise the minimum to $17 per hour this year and get it to $20 per hour by 2021. Better still, healthcare costs were frozen for lower-level employees, with the company absorbing increases. The increase comes after criticism of the bank for low pay; per one 2013 report, a third of its tellers were on some form of public assistance. Within two years, though, CEO Brian Moynihan notes that employees will be earning at least $41,000.
When Amazon hiked its minimum pay to $15 per hour, its CEO Jeff Bezos challenged the company's retailing rivals to top that. Walmart (NYSE: WMT), which employs 2.2 million people, is far from doing so, with a $11-per-hour minimum. Replying to Bezos in a tweet, Walmart's Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Dan Bartlett, quipped, "Hey retail competitors out there (you know who you are) how about paying your taxes?"
Aldi's name isn't as well known as some, but the Germany-based company is one of the fastest-growing grocery chains in the U.S. It's also a chain that typically pays more than the minimum wage. For a recent hiring fair in the Chicago area, it was noted that Aldi paid its store associates a starting wage of $13.10 per hour, well above the Illinois minimum of $8.25. A hiring "spree" in Indiana and Kentucky was announced with a note that Aldi paid $12 to $22 per hour, well above Indiana's minimum of $7.25.
You might not think of Nike (NYSE: NKE) as a retail chain, but as of fiscal 2018, it boasted more than 200 Nike brand factory stores in the U.S. and more than 600 outside the U.S. The company has been criticized for low pay at the factories producing its goods abroad, and it has answered that by saying that the factories supplying it are required to pay at least the minimum or prevailing wage. The situation is brighter in the U.S., where retail employees reportedly earn more than $10 per hour and many have benefits such as discounts on Nike gear, health insurance, access to fitness centers, and the ability to buy stock in the company at a discount.
14. JPMorgan Chase
Bank of America is not the only bank in town hiking its pay. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), which employs over 256,000 people worldwide (more than 170,000 of whom toil in the U.S.), recently upped its starting wage to a minimum of $16.50 per hour -- and $18.00 per hour in some areas with a particularly high cost of living.
Gap (NYSE: GPS) is a major apparel retailer, employing more than 150,000 people. It boasts five brands -- Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and INTERMIX -- and more than 3,000 stores. What does it pay? Well, per Indeed.com, cashiers recently averaged $10.42 per hour, while sales associates averaged $10.96. The company raised its minimum wage to $9 in 2014 and to $10 in 2015 -- affecting more than 60,000 workers.
Outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI, named repeatedly by Fortune magazine as one of "the best companies to work for," offers benefits such as tuition reimbursement, discounts on company products, subsidies for public transportation, and even sabbaticals. According to Indeed.com, its stockers averaged $10.09 per hour, while retail sales associates averaged $10.82.
Swedish furnishings giant IKEA has upped its U.S. workers' minimum pay several times in recent years. A 17.3% increase from $9.17 an hour to $10.76 was announced in 2014, followed by a 2015 increase to $11.87, a 10% bump. Per Indeed.com, cashiers recently averaged $11.92 per hour, with customer service associates averaging $13.31. The first increase was so well received that within six months, employee turnover had fallen by around 5% and the company was attracting more applicants for jobs.
18. Old Navy
As part of the Gap family, Old Navy workers got raises in their minimum pay to $9 in 2014 and $10 in 2015. The move was explained by management as serving many purposes, such as attracting and retaining talent and thereby helping the company grow. Per Indeed.com, cashiers recently averaged about $10.18 to $10.51 per hour in wages, while other retail positions sported averages a bit higher or lower.
19. Banana Republic
Banana Republic, also a division of Gap Inc., benefited from the company's minimum wage hike to $10 per hour in 2015, following a hike to $9 per hour in 2014. Per Indeed.com, cashiers recently averaged pay of $10.76 per hour. While many saw the increase (along with those of other companies at the time) as preemptive moves, as the Obama administration was interested in seeing a higher minimum wage, the company explained the increase like this: "To us, this is not a political issue. Our decision to invest in front-line employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over."
20. Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry's has long been known for its interest in progressive causes, and even though it's now part of Unilever (NYSE: UL), it remains committed to paying its workers a "livable wage." That minimum livable wage was recently $17.78 per hour. Management notes that, "Every year, we recalculate the livable wage to make sure it's keeping up with the actual cost of living in Vermont. In recent years, Ben & Jerry's livable wage has been nearly twice the national minimum wage."
If you don't live in certain southern states, you may not be too familiar with the Publix supermarket chain, but it employs more than 200,000 people at more than 1,000 locations and pays, on average, more than the minimum wage. (It has also been named one of Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for 21 consecutive years.) In 2018, Public announced an increase in its minimum wage (though it didn't specify to what, exactly). The folks at Indeed.com have some numbers, though, finding cashiers recently averaging about $10.16 per hour and deli associates averaging $10.38.
McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) has lobbied against increases in the minimum wage for many years, but it has recently announced that it will stop resisting. The fast food giant didn't announce a new hike of its own, though, for its workforce of nearly two million people. (McDonald's is America's second-largest private employer, after Walmart.) The minimum wage for workers at its company-owned locations reportedly tops $10 per hour, but many workers toil at franchises, where the parent company has less control over pay. Per Indeed.com, average pay for cashiers was recently $8.68 per hour, while crew members averaged $9.03.
Upscale retail chain Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN) recently sported 379 stores in 40 states, with an average hourly rate for its cashiers of $12.21 and $13.48 for sales associates, per Indeed.com. That's well above the federal minimum wage, but sales people can do even better than that at Nordstrom, as they get to earn commissions on sales. It's far from the norm, but some sales associates have earned more than $1 million in a single year thanks to commissions.
Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) has long been known for progressive policies, including offering health insurance even to part-time workers and paid sick leave and stock bonuses to many workers as well. The company has not yet joined the ranks of those offering a minimum wage of $15 or more to all workers, though. Still, it reportedly does pay all workers more than the minimum wage. Its baristas recently averaged an hourly rate of $9.77, while shift supervisors averaged $12.29, per payscale.com.
Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) is a home-improvement powerhouse, with more than 2,200 stores, a market value topping $84 billion, and some 300,000 employees. How do those workers fare, pay-wise? Well, payscale.com reports an overall average hourly wage of $14.17, company-wide, while glassdoor.com has cashiers and customer service associates earning between $9 and $18 per hour and averaging $11 or $12 per hour.
26. Home Depot
Lowe's top rival, Home Depot (NYSE: HD), boasts a market value topping $200 billion, nearly 3,000 stores across all 50 states, and more than 400,000 workers. Payscale.com has its average wage as $11.90, well below that of Lowe's, while glassdoor.com reports cashiers and sales associates earning an average of about $11 per hour.
27. T. J. Maxx
The T.J. Maxx chain, owned by TJX Companies (NYSE: TJX), recently spanned 1,252 stores in the U.S. alone -- so it's obviously a major American employer. How do its workers fare, wage-wise? Well, the company hiked its minimum wage to at least $9 in 2015, promising to bump pay up by another dollar the following year, to at least $10, for workers who'd been with the company for at least six months.
The Marshalls chain is also owned by TJX Companies, and there were recently 1,091 Marshalls stores (in the U.S.) one might shop at, if one had a lot of time. Sales associates and cashiers at Marshalls average about $9 to $10 per hour, per glassdoor.com.
29. Home Goods
The Home Goods chain, like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, is also owned by TJX Companies, and there were recently 749 locations in the U.S. The parent company employs about 250,000 people, and the average wage for sales associates and cashiers was recently around $9 per hour, per glassdoor.com.
30. Best Buy
Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) is a major electronics retailer, recently spanning almost 1,000 stores in the U.S. The company notes that about 70% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a store. Sales associates earn an average of about $11 per hour, per glassdoor.com, and many receive benefits such as employee discounts, tuition assistance, and adoption assistance.
Supermarket chain Kroger (NYSE: KR) boasts more than 2,700 stores in America -- and almost half a million employees (who serve some 9 million customers daily). What do those workers earn? Well, the average rate is above the federal minimum wage, but not by leaps and bounds. Cashiers averaged hourly rates of $8 to $9 recently, per glassdoor.com data.
32. Big Lots
The Big Lots (NYSE: BIG) discount chain is more than 50 years old. Based in Columbus, Ohio, it recently operated about 1,400 stores in 47 states, and employed about 35,000 people. Store associates and cashiers recently earned between about $8 and $12 per hour, averaging close to $9. Benefits that many employees receive (often depending on their full-time vs. part-time status and/or tenure) include a 401(k) savings plan with a company match, health insurance, and paid sick days.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is huge. Its market value, north of $900 billion and approaching a trillion dollars, puts it among the top few companies on earth, in terms of market capitalization, jostling with Amazon.com and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). It's a major employer, too, with more than 100,000 workers. A good number of those are software specialists and others who toil at the company's headquarters, but many others work at Apple stores -- the company's retail locations. Retail workers earn much more than the minimum wage, with sales specialists earning an average of $16 per hour and "Apple Geniuses" earning an average of $22 per hour, per glassdoor.com.
34. Shake Shack
The burger-and-shake chain Shake Shack (Nasdaq: SHAK) recently boasted more than 200 eateries across 28 states and various international locations, and annual revenue approaching $500 million. The company is relatively young, having started as a hot dog stand in 2001 and gone public on the stock market in 2015. Per PayScale, cashiers, line cooks, and food service workers earn an hourly average of $10.44, $10.80, and $12.12, respectively.
35. Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory (Nasdaq: CAKE), having started in 1978, is now 219 restaurants strong, with more than 37,000 workers. It has been named to Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for six years in a row, including 2019. Per greatplacetowork.com, 90% of workers say it's a… great place to work. Prep cooks and line cooks earn about $12 and $13 per hour, respectively, and servers recently earned between $2 and $12 per hour, averaging $5.36, per PayScale. That last wage is well below the well-known federal minimum wage, but that's because the federal minimum for tipped workers is just $2.13 -- and that rate hasn't been increased for almost 30 years!
36. Panda Express
The Chinese restaurant chain Panda Express has been around since 1983, and now has more than 2,200 locations. Workers there earn an average hourly rate of $11.19, per PayScale, though cashiers, food counter workers, and line cooks were recently averaging less than $11 per hour.
With more than 400,000 workers, FedEx (NYSE: FDX) is a major American employer. Many are delivery-focused, but plenty work in retail locations, as well. The company has about 15,000 workers at their 1,900-some FedEx Office locations, which offer shipping, copying, and other business services. Customer service associates and sales consultants recently earned an hourly average of $12.19 and $13.59, respectively, per PayScale.
Sephora is a major beauty retailer, with about 400 locations across America and 600 more in J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) stores. Cashiers, sales consultants, and make-up artists recently earned an hourly average wage of $10.21, $12.13, and $13.36, respectively, per PayScale.
39. Office Depot
Office Depot (Nasdaq: ODP) is an office products chain with roughly 1,400 locations and more than 38,000 employees. Its sales associates recently averaged an hourly wage of $9.25, per PayScale. Worker benefits offered by the company include health insurance, retirement savings plans, and parental leave.
40. Bed, Bath & Beyond
Bed, Bath & Beyond (Nasdaq: BBBY) sports more than 1,500 stores in the U.S. and Canada, nearly 1,000 of which bear the flagship brand, Bed, Bath & Beyond. Its other stores bear names such as Christmas Tree Shops, buybuy BABY, andThat!, Harmon, World Market, and Cost Plus, among others. The company's sales associates and cashiers earn about $10 per hour, on average, per glassdoor.com.
You may not realize it, but the office products mega-chain Staples is no longer a publicly traded company. It was bought by the private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $6.9 billion in 2017. Staples reportedly has about 1,200 stores, but their future may be a bit uncertain as the company retools itself, with some expecting more focus on business-to-business deliveries and less on retail store sales. Still, many thousands of employees have jobs in Staples stores and they were recently averaging hourly wages of close to $10.
42. Williams Sonoma
Williams Sonoma (NYSE: WSM) encompasses several businesses, such as Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn. You may think of it as a chain of brick-and-mortar stores, but its e-commerce operations have been growing, and the company recently noted that 54% of its business was generated online. Still, what do its retail workers earn? Well, per PayScale, its sales associates recently earned between $9 and $16 per hour, averaging $10.90.
J.Crew is a well known apparel brand, with more than 200
stores bearing that name. The company also sports 131 Madewell stores and 174
factory stores, along with a handful of e-commerce sites. As of last year, it
had more than 13,000 employees and $2.4 billion in revenue. Started in 1983,
the company is now privately held. Its retail staffers recently averaged about
$10 per hour, per glassdoor.com.
Founded way back in 1872, Bloomingdale's is an upscale department-store chain, recently with about 38 department stores and 17 Bloomingdale's The Outlet stores. Retail sales associates recently averaged hourly wages of $12.68, per Indeed.com. On top of that, many get benefits such as health insurance, a 401(k) with a company match, paid time off, and an employee discount that's typically 20% but is sometimes more.
45. Dollar Tree
You might be assuming that the local Dollar Tree (Nasdaq: DLTR) store in your neighborhood is just a sleepy little business, but it's actually part of a $25-billion chain that includes not only Dollar Tree stores but also Family Dollar ones -- and a total of more than 15,000 of them across the U.S. and Canada. As of last year, it employed more than 175,000 people. Per PayScale, cashiers and sales associates average hourly pay of $8.16 and $8.70, respectively.
Clothing retailer Zara is an international force, with more than 2,200 stores in almost 100 countries. The country with the most Zara locations is Spain, home to more than 500, and it's followed by China with more than 200. There are more than 80 in the U.S. Cashiers and sales associates average about $11 per hour, per glassdoor.com. Most employees get a 25% discount as well.
Wegmans is one of the most loved supermarket chains, recently with 99 locations in a handful of eastern states. More than 100 years old, it has been named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune for 22 consecutive years -- placing third in 2019. In 2019, it also ranked No. 1 for corporate reputation among 100 leading companies, according to a Harris Poll study. Cashiers at Wegmans earn an average of about $10 per hour, per glassdoor.com.
With more than 1,100 stores in 49 states, Kohl's is a major retailing employer, with around 137,000 workers as of last year and $19 billion in revenue. The company doesn't seem to have an official minimum wage, though, with a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article noting that per an executive, "Kohl’s sets starting and average wages by individual market and store. The minimum is above $12 an hour at some stores and lower at others..." Sales associates average about $9.40, per Indeed.com.
AutoZone (NYSE: AZO) is a leading retailer and distributor of auto parts and accessories, sporting a market value of about $25 billion. It has more than 5,600 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and more than 500 in Mexico, with 20-plus in Brazil. Sales associates at AutoZone recently earned an hourly wage of between about $8 and $11, with an average of $9.33, per PayScale. Parts managers averaged $11.74 an hour.
50. J. C. Penney
Dating back to 1902, J. C. Penney currently spans some 860-plus stores across
the U.S. and Puerto Rico, with roughly 95,000 employees. Sales associates
recently averaged $9.77 per hour, per Indeed.com. Benefits for workers include
dental and vision coverage, paid time off, and a 401(k) plan, which don't even
require full-time status. (Full-time status is
required for medical insurance coverage.)
Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Selena Maranjian owns shares of Apple, Costco Wholesale, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, FedEx, Microsoft, Nike, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Costco Wholesale, CVS Health, Home Depot, Lowe's, Nordstrom, The TJX Companies, and Williams-Sonoma. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.