Year-end is a time of lists and awards where we look back over the past year and give special recognition to the best and worst at any number of things.  In that spirit, let’s take a look at the best and worst businesses to work for as well as the jobs where we most trust and distrust those serving us.

A good gauge as to the best places to work is to look at where students graduating from university want to work.  According to a comprehensive review of numerous studies by 24/, Google headed this list for its laid back corporate environment, innovated spirit and pay that outpaced competitors.  Second was the accounting firm KPMG followed by Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft and Deloitte.  The common thread to all of these companies was that pay was above average while innovation and hard work were rewarded with career opportunities.

Sixth and seventh were Ernst & Young and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, two more of the Big Four accounting firm.  Rounding out the top ten were JPMorganChase, Coca-Cola and Goldman Sachs.

On the other side of things, some companies were viewed as being the Ebeneezer Scrooge’s of the corporate world.  These are companies with more than 100 employees where two-thirds are paid less than $10/hour.  As many of these workers qualify for federal assistance programs such as food stamps, you and I are essentially subsidizing the profits of these Scrooge-like companies.  Besides paying low wages, many of these employers prevented access to full-time work, provided limited benefits and maintained unsafe or unpleasant work environments.  Many also used the Great Recession as a justification for maintaining low wages and a poor work environment.


The winner of this dubious distinction with the largest percentage of its workers designated as low wage workers had a workforce of 1.4 million Americans.  This company has been in trouble for years for depriving workers for time worked.  As an example, in 2008 this company paid $640 million to settle lawsuits for the practice of violating wage and overtime laws and just recently had additional charges brought against them for this practice yet in 2011, their net profits were $15.7 billion.  The name of this company?  Wal-Mart.

Second on the list was Yum! Brands, the owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.  With 880,000 workers, this company has lobbied in recent years for a change in paid sick leave legislation to the detriment of their workers.  Their profits last year were $1.3 billion while their CEO was paid $44 million.

Rounding out the top five were McDonald’s, Target and Sears, the owner of K-Mart.  Only Sears in the top five struggled financially.

Burger King which vocally opposed to the Affordable Care Act came in sixth.  Starbuck’s, once known as one of the best places to work, now facing workers consternation due to stagnated salaries and a reduction of benefits ranked seventh.  DineEquity, owner of Applebee’s and IHOP, Macy’s and Wendy’s completed the top ten of these Scrooge-like companies.

Looking at the ethics and trustworthiness of various professions, more than 70% of Americans felt that nurses, pharmacists, doctors and engineers demonstrated these characteristics.  Dentists, policemen, teachers and the clergy were the only other professions to garner than 50% support.

Those felt to have poor ethics and trustworthiness were car salesmen at 7%, Congress at 10%, advertising salesmen and stockbrokers at 11% each.  Others under 25% included HMO Managers, Senators, Insurance salesmen, lawyers, governors, business executives and journalists.  The common thread among most of the non-political professions was that those professionals typically worked on a commission basis.

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