Since the dawn of man (or, perhaps capitalism), workers and management have disagreed on the impact of raising wages. For workers making less than $10 an hour, a few extra bucks a week can make a huge difference in terms of quality of life. Management, on the other hand, predictably suggests that raising wages kills jobs and inhibits hiring and man hours.
Despite the perception that minimum wage jobs are often held by teenage workers entering the job market, numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that 49 percent of minimum wage workers are adult women, many of whom have children.
With this as the backdrop, the National Employment Law Center (NELP) has published a list of the 50 U.S. companies who have the most low wage workers. While not all of these companies pay the exact minimum wage they all pay very close to the wage floor. As you can see by the list, the companies listed also share a common trait of being massive, successful companies making major profits. Perhaps their universally low labor costs have something to do with that trend?
As expected, America’s largest employer, Wal-Mart, tops the list. NELP’s study looks into the genetic makeup of this dishonorable mention, and notes the majority (66 percent) of low‐wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but rather by large corporations where top executive compensation averaged $9.4 million.
The 50 largest employers of low‐wage workers have largely recovered from the recession and most are in strong financial positions: 92 percent were profitable last year; 78 percent have been profitable for the last three years; 75 percent have higher revenues now than before the recession; 73 percent have higher cash holdings; and 63 percent have higher operating margins(a measure of profitability).
$174.8 billion to shareholders in dividends or share buybacks over the past five years.
The largest companies in America have, for the most part, recovered from the recession while their workers are still feeling its entire effects. It is safe to say that we should soundly reject the argument that raising the minimum wage would harm large corporations. They don’t know harm well enough to claim it.