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The 12 biggest companies paying workers the least

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WalmartThe gap between rich and poor is well illustrated by the large multibillion-dollar corporations employing thousands of low-wage workers. With the Great Recession over, not only are many of the companies posting record profits, but executive pay remains extremely high.

Meantime, the federal minimum wage earned by many workers at those companies is worth 30% less than it was in 1968 in purchasing power, according to a 2012 report from the National Employment Law Project.

Two-thirds of low-wage workers — those paid less than $10 an hour — are employed by large corporations with at least 100 employees, NELP says.

Seven of the 12 largest employers NELP studied are national restaurant chains, such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Starbucks. The others are national retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Sears.

Many of the companies have a history of poor labor relations. Long hours, unsafe or unpleasant working conditions and limited full-time positions and benefits, have been documented at some locations of many of these companies.

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