The Company Wage Tracker: Estimates of Wages at 66 Large Service Sector Employers

, , and

Research BriefPDF


Executive Summary

Low wages are widespread in the service-sector – a sector that makes up nearly 20% of the nation’s workforce. While the COVID-19 crisis has focused public and policy attention on the service-sector, workers in retail, food service, big box stores, pharmacy, hardware, delivery, grocery and other subsectors continue to labor under precarious working conditions. Workers struggle with a lack of paid sick leave, unstable and unpredictable work schedules, and low wages.

In this brief, we report wage distributions for hourly workers at 66 large service-sector firms, using unique survey data collected from Facebook and Instagram users between March 2021 and November 2021 by the Shift Project. The Company Wage Tracker provides a visual way to compare company’s wage distributions and corporate financials.

At a high-level, the Company Wage Tracker shows:

Wages are low throughout the service sector but vary across sectors.  Overall, 56% of hourly service sector workers make less than $15 per hour and 25% make less than $12 per hour across 66 large companies. The hospitality sector had the lowest wages with 73% of workers making less than $15 per hour. Workers were paid the most in the delivery sector where only 8% of workers made less than $15 per hour.

Wages vary across companies within sectors, showing that low wages are not inevitable. In the food service sector, for example, In-N-Out Burgers stands out with only 9% of workers making below $15 per hour, compared to the sector average of 63%. In the grocery sector, 1% of Whole Foods workers make under $15 per hour, compared to the average 49%. In the retail sector, Target and Costco stand out with below 3% making under $15 per hour, compared to the average 60%.

The lowest wages are most prevalent in the food service and hospitality sectors. Overall, 13% of food service and hospitality workers make under $10 per hour, compared to under 4% in retail, grocery, pharmacy, and delivery sectors. A few food service employers stand out with particularly low wages: Between 23 and 25% of workers at McDonald’s, Subway, Pizza Hut and Waffle House make under $10 per hour.

Some firms with the highest CEO pay and revenue pay workers the least. At one extreme of these 66 firms, Dollar General’s CEO has the third highest pay, at $58.5 million per year while Dollar General has the highest proportion of workers making below $15 per hour (92%).

Access the EPI Company Wage Tracker at: