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Top restaurant CEOs paid 788 times minimum wage, data show

Top restaurant CEOs paid 788 times minimum wage, data show
New York City fast food workers rally at a one-day strike on April 4. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Chief executives at the nation's top restaurant companies earn more in a single morning than the average minimum-wage cook, dishwasher or server does in an entire year, according to research from the Economic Policy Institute.

Last year, head honchos at major eatery chains reeled in $11,884,000 on average, including options, according to the institute. In 2008, they made roughly $3 million in overall compensation.

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When Don Thompson took over as McDonald's Corp. CEO last year, he got a 26% raise to a $1.1-million base salary.

The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank known for its liberal bent, said that full-time minimum wage workers in the industry earn $15,080 a year.

The 1 million people working as restaurant cooks last year made $11.20 an hour on average, earning $23,300 over the year, according to the Labor Department. California, Texas and New York are among the states with the highest concentrations of such workers.

These workers, including employees in bars and food service, hold six of the 10 lowest paid jobs in a government ranking, sharing space with salon shampooers and amusement park attendants.

More than 10 million people work in the restaurant industry overall, according to advocacy group Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. The business is the largest employer of minorities and the second-largest employer of immigrants.

The industry also accounts for 39% of all workers earning at or below minimum wage, according to the group.

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