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Top 25 hourly rates at Fortune 500 companies

By Michael Klazema on 3/22/2019
Hourly rates and minimum wages have received a lot of attention in the media in recent years thanks to a political push to institute higher minimum wages at the state or federal level. So far, the federal rate isn’t increasing: it’s remained $7.25 per hour since July 2009. However, many employers are taking steps to increase hourly rates on their own. 

Below is a list of major companies with average or minimum hourly rates that are higher than the legal requirement. These top 25 hourly rates highlight the growing push for higher wages at all levels of the corporate ladder.

1. Amazon.com: Amazon has struggled with its public image recently with controversies ranging from chatter about lousy working conditions to the company’s now-abandoned plan to open a new headquarters in Queens, New York. However, Amazon did give itself a significant branding boost in 2018 by becoming the first company of its stature to adopt a $15 minimum wage.

2. Charter Communications: Not to be outdone by Amazon, Charter Communications implemented its own $15 minimum wage in 2018.

3. Aetna: Though not as recognizable a brand as Amazon, health insurance company Aetna was even more of a trailblazer in major minimum wage hikes. Until April 2015, most of the company’s U.S. workers had been making $12 per hour. The hike moved Aetna’s minimum wage to one of the best hourly rates in the country at $16. 

4. JPMorgan Chase: JPMorgan Chase gave many of its employees an over-$4 wage increase in July 2016. The bank’s minimum wage increased from $10.15 to $16.50.

5. Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo announced in late 2017 that it would start paying a $15 minimum wage. Previously, the minimum hourly rate was $13.50.

6. Whole Foods Market: Amazon.com bought Whole Foods in 2017, which meant that the grocery chain got the same $15 minimum wage hike as the rest of the company last year.

7. Disney: The Walt Disney Company is shaking things up this year with how it pays the employees at its iconic theme parks. Disney has committed to implementing a $15 minimum wage across its theme park resorts in California and Florida. Disneyland Park in Anaheim will get the hike sometime in 2019 while Disney World in Orlando will see incremental increases until it hits the $15 minimum wage in October 2021.

8. Costco: Costco pays a minimum wage of $14 per hour. According to Walter Jelinek, the company’s CEO, the average wage for Costco employees is considerably higher at $22.50.

9. UPS: In the summer of 2018, UPS struck a bargain with the Teamsters to increase the minimum wage for hourly employees. As of August 2018, the wage had increased from $10 to $13. UPS has committed to increasing the minimum wage further, to $15.50 an hour, on or before August 1, 2022. 

10. Apple: According to Indeed, Apple’s retail job hourly rates average between $14.50 and $20 depending on the job. Employees who work the Genius Bar at Apple Store locations often make more than $20 per hour.

11. Walmart: Walmart raised its minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2015 and again to $11 per hour in 2018. The company credited the then-brand-new Republican tax bill for the change and even paid out one-time bonuses of up to $1,000 to all employees.

12. McDonald’s: McDonald’s has been at the heart of the minimum wage debate because the fight for a $15 minimum wage mostly started with fast food workers. McDonald’s hasn’t gone to $15 yet, but it did commit in 2016 to paying at least $1 per hour more than what local minimum wage laws demanded. For 90,000 workers, that shift moved wages from around $9 per hour to $9.90.

13. Target: Target raised its minimum wage to$12 per hour for all employees in 2018. The company also announced plans to hit a $15 minimum wage by the end of 2020.

14. Shake Shack: Shake Shack has become well-known for paying its employees more than what minimum wage laws require. According to Glassdoor, employees with the company make an average of $10.89.

15. The Home Depot: The Home Depot raised its minimum wage to $11 per hour in 2018. Like Walmart, the company doled out one-time bonuses to workers based on duration of employment. 

16. CVS: CVS was complimentary of the 2018 tax overhaul. The drugstore and pharmacy chain responded to gains by increasing its minimum wage from $9 to $11.

17. Gap: Retail clothing brand Gap raised its minimum wage to $9 back in 2014. In 2018, the company announced another increase to at least $10 per hour for all sales associates.

18. In-N-Out: “We start all our new associates out at a minimum of $12.00 an hour for one simple reason…you are important to us!” reads the In-N-Out website. The company also offers ample opportunities for advancement. Restaurant managers can make $160,000 per year without a college degree.

19. Lowe’s: According to Payscale.com, most positions with Lowe’s—including on-the-floor sales associates—make at least $11 per hour. Company-wide, the average hourly wage is reportedly $13.36.

20. Starbucks: Employees for Starbucks earn an average of $10.61 per hour based on Payscale statistics. The company has one of the most revered benefits programs in the retail/food service sector.

21. Best Buy: While Best Buy does not have a set corporate minimum wage, the company has a reputation for paying better wages than many other retail brands. According to Payscale, Best Buy’s average hourly wage is $12.

22. Verizon: Customer service jobs with Verizon almost always pay a few dollars above local minimum wage requirements. $9 or $10 is the low-end range for these jobs based on Payscale data, and the average hourly wage for employees across the company is over $18.
 
23. Trader Joe's: Trader Joe's repeatedly ranks highly on “good places to work” lists thanks in part to its employee compensation and benefits. Employees make an average hourly minimum of $13.29 according to Glassdoor. All employees who work 15 hours per week or more are eligible for health, dental, and vision benefits.

24. IKEA: In June 2014, IKEA bumped up its minimum wage to $10.76 per hour. A year and a half later, the Swedish retailer added another 10 percent hike, raising the minimum wage in United States stores to $11.87. 
 
25. Walgreens: In March 2018, following similar announcements by companies like Walmart and Target, Walgreens announced that it would raise its company-wide minimum wage to $11 per hour.

These employers are not the only ones taking steps to pay their workers more. With no increase in the federal minimum wage in sight, it is likely that more and more companies will start taking matters into their own hands. 

Paying competitive hourly rates is a healthy choice for branding and helps attract talent within a robust economy that has created a job seeker’s market. Job seekers can reap the market’s benefits by seeking positions with one of the 25 companies listed above. 

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