These are the companies whose employees will make the least money — for the rest of their lives

The fast-food industry has deservedly gotten a lot of flak recently for its rock-bottom wages. And according to a new analysis, it appears that those who end up working jobs in fast food also tend to make not that much money throughout their entire careers, not just while they're flipping burgers.

The data comes to us from the job search Web site Bright.com, which reviewed 8 million resumes of people who'd worked at a select basket of companies -- those who had listed current or previous employment at the companies -- and found out how many of them ever made more than $70,000.

The results were predictable: Employees of fast-food restaurants and some retail establishments stayed low-income forever. Wendy's was the worst performer, with only 5.5 percent of its alumni reaching the $70,000 threshold, followed by the T.J. Maxx companies, Subway, Kohl's, McDonalds, and Macy's. Employees of telecommunications and manufacturing companies fared the best: 53 percent of Ford's employees eventually made more than $70,000, followed by Verizon, Chrysler, AT&T, and Sodexo.

Bright.com also assessed the distribution of salaries within a company's workforce. While the following graph is really difficult to decipher, you can basically tell that many more employees of companies like Ford, Chrysler, and AT&T make decent salaries, while very few people at companies like Wendy's and McDonald's make more than $60,000.


Now, there's no reason to believe that working low-wage jobs necessarily torpedoes your chances of earning a decent living down the road. It's more likely that the collection of circumstances that propel people into those jobs -- lack of education, geographic mobility, or better jobs -- continue to hold them back for the rest of their lives.

The data also calls into question the validity of what we usually consider to be "entry-level" jobs. If a job isn't an entry into a career that moves in a more prosperous direction, it's unclear what real value it really has.

Lydia DePillis is a reporter focusing on labor, business, and housing. She previously worked at The New Republic and the Washington City Paper. She's from Seattle.
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