3p Weekend: 10 U.S. Companies That Pay Above Minimum Wage

Fast food workers strike for higher wages in New York City last summer.
Fast food workers strike for higher wages in New York City last summer.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday (starting today) TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

With the federal minimum wage increase a hot topic on everyone’s mind, this week we rounded up 10 U.S. companies that pay each of their employees a living wage. You may be surprised by who made the list.

1. Costco

Costco has long been a leader in social sustainability, starting its employees at $11.50 per hour with an average wage of $21 per hour, not including overtime. Last year, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek earned plenty of praise, and cynicism, for his vocal support of an increase in the U.S. minimum wage—underscoring the company’s commitment to fair pay.

2. Gap, Inc.

Just last week, Gap, Inc. announced that it will increase the minimum hourly rate it pays American employees from $9 per hour in 2014 to $10 per hour in 2015. The 45-year-old company that includes well-known retail brands like the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic employs 90,000 people in the U.S. and 137,000 worldwide.

3. QuikTrip

This Oklahoma-based convenience store and gas station chain offers entry-level employees an annual salary of around $40,000, plus benefits, the Atlantic reports. Defying the stereotype that paying higher wages is bad for business, QuikTrip has expanded to 645 locations across 11 states.

4. In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger, a fast food chain and veritable cult food classic in California and the Southwest, starts its employees off at a wage of $10.50 an hour. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez recently noted the chain’s elevated wages and wondered why its competitors couldn’t follow suit, saying: “I find it a remarkable notion that McDonald’s can’t afford to pay an increase in the minimum wage but In-N-Out Burger can.”

5. Trader Joe’s

The natural foods chain is somewhat secretive about the way it runs its business, but it is largely considered to be a well-paying employer in the grocery industry. According to Glassdoor, the average Trader Joe’s crew member earns $13.20 an hour. Pay starts at around $9, but raise opportunities come often, and employees have the opportunity to earn a $2 per hour raise every year.

6. Patagonia

Outdoor retailer Patagonia made headlines last year when it included nine styles in its Fall 2013 line that were Fair Trade Certified by Fair Trade USA. This step, a first from a major retailer, is the first in the company’s commitment towards fair trade sourcing. Here in the states, the retailer also starts its sales associates at $10 per hour, according to Glassdoor.

7. Zappos

While many Web-based retailers operate their call centers in the developing world, paying operators meager wages and providing no benefits, Zappos, the online apparel company owned by Amazon, pays up to $16 per hour for its call center representatives.

8. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is a big name in the sustainability and social good spaces, so it’s no huge shock that it treats its ice cream scoopers well, too. An entry-level Ben & Jerry’s worker earns $15.97 per hour, a company spokeswoman told the Huffington Post in an email—a figure based on the living wage in Vermont.

9. Sun Light & Power

Sun Light & Power, a Berkeley, Calif.-based solar installation company, was founded in 1976 and is one of America’s oldest solar companies. It also pays all of its employees a living wage and covers 50 percent of their individual/family health insurance premiums, according to B Corp.

10. Boloco

Boloco, a Boston-based burrito chain with 23 locations across New England and the Mid-Atlantic, pays its entry-level workers anywhere from $9 to $11 an hour, most of them making $10, reports ThinkProgress. While these wages more than exceed the average for a fast food employee, the company’s CEO isn’t stopping there. When speaking about his company’s starting wage last year, Pepper told the Huffington Post, “We can and must do more.”

Image credit: Flickr/Annette Bernhardt

Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is an editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared on the Huffington PostSustainable BrandsEarth911 and The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.

Mary Mazzoni

Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is the senior editor of TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist with a passion for storytelling and sustainability. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, Earth911, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and the Daily Meal.

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian with an interest in climate resilience, clean tech and social justice. You can contact her at mary@triplepundit.com.

18 responses

  1. I love, love, love Trader Joe’s, but please let’s not call them a natural food chain. They embrace chemicals in their food just as much as Safeway. I recognize they offer many healthy options, but most of their food does not emphasize health.

  2. Unfortunatly, $10 – $12 an hour is not a liveable wage in most of the US.
    That equates to about $1500 a month net, depending on your local state taxes.

  3. Strictly speaking, these are not “living wages”… at least not most of them. These are definitely improvements on the minimum wage, but it’s a little inaccurate to call them living wages – that’s a specific calculation based on cost of living in a given area. But still, a good list!

  4. good to see a fair number of food companies there; i think there’s
    nasty alignment between junky cheap food companies and cheap wages, so the better the wage level, the better the food quality

  5. At my store we start people off at $10.75CDN and after 30 days they usually move up to $11. 25/11.50$. Most floor staff make $12.50 hour. This is a local independent organic food store in Edmonton, AB.

  6. WHERE’S HOBBY LOBBY??? You liberals point out companies few people know about but you ignore one of the largest retailers that pays a living wage, just because it’s Christian. Biased much?

  7. Guys, a living wage is enough to pay for the essentials: food, rent, utilities. That’s all. Luxuries like cellphone, cable TV, fast food meals, luxury housing, and dependents are extra. If you want these luxuries, then you should get a second job or a better one.

    1. No. Paying merely for essentials is a SUBSISTENCE wage. A Living wage is “the wages of decent living” per FDR:
      “It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.”

  8. costco……..They make over 4 billion dollars in membership fees alone. this is what helps the company support higher wages and better benefits. If they used just the membership fee to pay all the 174,000(+-) employees it would be around 24000(+-) dollars a year per employee at 11.13$(+-) this is how they are able to do this so it works. it doesn’t necessarily work for the stores like Walgreen and Cvs who relies on insurance and medicare part d from the pharmacy.

  9. The author of this article, through her own ignorance of the subject material, has created a deceptive article. $9 and $10 an hour wages, while higher than the minimum wage, are STILL poverty level wages and the companies starting people out at those wages are STILL not paying a living wage. Only ONE company out of the ten listed is paying a living wage of $15 an hour. This is media manipulation and deception at its sneakiest.

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