Who Pays What in Chain Restaurants? 'Fast Casual' Wins on Rates

The debate over pay for fast-food workers isn't going anywhere any time soon, if the group Fast Food Forward has its way.

In order to get its point across, the group is pressing for $15-an-hour wages and encouraging industry employees to take to the streets. The movement's Jonathan Westin predicts thousands of workers will protest their compensation this year by walking off the job, while demanding an hourly rate more than twice the federal minimum wage level of $7.25 and 67% higher than the $9-an-hour floor President Obama has advocated. Employee walkouts have already happened in big American cities, such as New York and Chicago -- all this is exactly the kind of thing labor activists like to see in America.

But the counter-argument is that fast-food jobs, which by and large do pay well under $10 an hour, aren't meant to be careers. This view maintains that they're intended as a foot in the door for young people and those trying to build a work history. And the detrimental effect is that raising wages significantly at McDonald's (MCD) and Burger King (BKW) would be seen on the menu, potentially pricing out a good portion of the patrons who currently eat fast food for the affordability.

We looked at 10 large U.S.-based chains to get a sense of how much they pay employees in common positions, like cashier and store manager, as well as their annual revenue and profits, and the overall labor costs they record, when available. Using data published on Glassdoor.com, we found sample pay rates from $7.24 an hour for a delivery driver at Yum! Brands (YUM) unit Pizza Hut to $11 an hour for a shift supervisor at Starbucks (SBUX). The highest rates were reported at the so-called fast casual chains -- like Chipotle (CMG) and Panera Bread (PNRA) -- where jobs, similar to those available at the larger burger chains, are paying over $8 an hour. (Starbucks baristas earn, on average, $8.79 an hour, the highest non-manager rate on our list.) These restaurants are also considerably more expensive than Wendy's (WEN) or KFC.

It's important to remember that these are averages; workers in Boston, the Bay Area or Birmingham, Ala., would expect the local economy to factor into their pay. Also, employee compensation at franchised restaurants is determined by the restaurant’s actual owner, not by the corporate parent.

Chains are ranked by U.S. store count, from largest to smallest.

MCDONALD'S

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AP Photo/Seth Perlman


Restaurants, U.S.: 14,157
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 81%
Cashier, hourly (based on 218 surveys): $7.73
Crew member, hourly (208 surveys): $7.68
Store manager, annual salary (41 surveys): $40,212
Company revenue: $27.57 billion
Earnings: $5.47 billion
Corporate labor costs: $4.71 billion

STARBUCKS

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REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


Stores, U.S.: 11,128
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 48%
Barista, hourly (based on 1,048 surveys): $8.79
Shift supervisor, hourly (521 surveys): $11
Store manager, annual salary (306 surveys): $44,455
Company revenue: $13.30 billion
Earnings: $1.38 billion
Corporate labor costs: *Starbucks doesn't break out this amount in its financial reporting.

PIZZA HUT (owned by Yum! Brands)

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Rod Mar/AP Images for Pizza Hut


Restaurants, U.S.: 7,756
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 81% (Yum! Brands total)
Delivery driver, hourly (based on 60 surveys): $7.24
Cook, hourly (50 surveys): $7.55
Restaurant general manager, annual salary (42 surveys): $40,201
Company revenue (Yum! Brands): $13.63 billion
Earnings (Yum! Brands): $1.60 billion
Corporate labor costs (Yum! Brands): $2.62 billion

BURGER KING

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AP Photo/Nick Ut


Restaurants, U.S.: 7,183
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 97%
Cashier, hourly (based on 60 surveys): $7.71
Crew member, hourly (30 surveys): $7.56
Store manager, annual salary (10 surveys): $41,344
Company revenue: $1.97 billion
Earnings: $117.7 million
Corporate labor costs: $345.1 million

WENDY'S

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AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach


Restaurants, U.S.: 5,817
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 78%
Cashier, hourly (based on 23 surveys): $7.39
Crew member, hourly (63 surveys): $7.70
General manager, annual salary (20 surveys): $44,172
Company revenue: $2.51 billion
Earnings: $7.1 million
Corporate labor costs: $641.3 million

TACO BELL (owned by Yum! Brands)

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AP Photo


Restaurants, U.S.: 5,695
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 81% (Yum! Brands total)
Cashier, hourly (based on 26 surveys): $7.36
Crew member, hourly (49 surveys): $7.78
Restaurant general manager, annual salary (20 surveys): $43,655
Company revenue (Yum! Brands): $13.63 billion
Earnings (Yum! Brands): $1.60 billion
Corporate labor costs (Yum! Brands): $2.62 billion

DOMINO'S PIZZA (DPZ)

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REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
























Stores, U.S.: 4,928
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 96%
Delivery driver, hourly (based on 41 surveys): $7.67
Assistant manager, hourly (48 surveys): $9.49
General manager, annual salary (23 surveys): $45,086
Company revenue: $1.68 billion
Earnings: $112.4 million
Corporate labor costs: $91.9 million (*domestic company-owned stores only, based on labor and related expenses totaling 28.4% of the $323.7 million in store revenue)

KFC (owned by Yum! Brands)

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Tony Avelar/AP Images for KFC


Restaurants, U.S.: 4,618
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 81% (Yum! Brands total)
Cashier, hourly (based on 19 surveys): $7.62
Team member, hourly (27 surveys): $7.50
Restaurant general manager, annual salary (12 surveys): $43,442
Company revenue (Yum! Brands): $13.63 billion
Earnings (Yum! Brands): $1.60 billion
Corporate labor costs (Yum! Brands): $2.62 billion

PANERA BREAD

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kennejima/Flickr


Stores, U.S.: 1,643
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 51%
Associate, hourly (based on 127 surveys): $8.11
Cashier, hourly (66 surveys): $8.36
General manager, annual salary (25 surveys): $46,239
Company revenue: $2.13 billion
Earnings: $173.4 million
Corporate labor costs: $559.4 million

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL

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AP Photo/David Zalubowski


Restaurants, U.S.: 1,399
Percentage of global system owned by franchisees/licensees: 0%
Cashier, hourly (based on 20 surveys): $8.63
Crew member, hourly (48 surveys): $8.51
General manager, annual salary (15 surveys): $44,100
Company revenue: $2.73 billion
Earnings: $278 million
Corporate labor costs: $641.8 million

Notes: The salary information is supplied directly and voluntarily by employees and presented on Glassdoor. The hourly rates or annual salaries listed here exclude further compensation, such as bonuses or tips, that may be paid. In many cases, job titles were similar or duplicated, such as general manager and restaurant general manager, or crew member -- hourly and crew -- hourly. In these situations, one job title was chosen to represent the position, and the title was specified.

Revenue for the restaurant chains discussed here is determined by sales at company-owned restaurants, along with royalties, fees and rent from franchisees and licensees, and is not the same as total system-wide sales. For example, McDonald's had system-wide sales of nearly $89 billion last year. All financial data and store counts are for fiscal year 2012 unless otherwise noted.
 

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