Colorado’s top employers don’t always pay stellar wages

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is the largest private employer in the United States, and in Colorado it’s no different.

According to the most recent information from the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Wal-Mart is the state’s top employer with more than 23,000 workers — including part-time and full-time.

A list of the employers with the most employees includes retail outlets and a temp agency not known for the best wages and job satisfaction, according to federal data. It also includes food and pharmacy chains, including Safeway and King Soopers, whose workers have union protections.

Information from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed in 2007 that retail salespersons and cashiers made an average of $21,160 to $25,600 a year.

Recent Bureau figures also showed that full-time temp workers made an average of $21,000 annually in 2005, and that workers in temporary occupations were found to be the least likely to prefer their current occupation when compared to other alternative work arrangements like on-call workers and independent contractors. The Bureau also reported that temp agency employees were less likely to qualify for health insurance than non-temp employees.

1. Wal-Mart – Retail outlet – 23,730 employees

2. King Soopers/City Market – Retail outlet, including food and pharmacy – 17,134 employees

3. Centura Health – Health provider – 12,000 employees

4. Pro-Lease – Employer organization – 12,000 employees

5. Qwest Communications – Telecommunications – 10,400 employees

6. Safeway – Retail outlet, including food and pharmacy – 11,621 employees

7. HCA-Health One – Healthcare provider – 8,800 employees

8. McDonalds – Fast food – 8,680 employees

9. ADP TotalSource – professional employer organization, provides human resource, payroll services – 7,00 employees

10. Exempla Healthcare – Hospital – 6,850 employees

Click here for a brief history of labor and here to learn which Colorado companies employ the most full-time employees.

Clarification: Story has been updated to clarify ADP Total Source as a employer organization, not a temp agency.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at

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