TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are America’s Best Companies to Work For

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The Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. company logos are seen on an advertising sign during the Apps World Multi-Platform Developer Show in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

A surprising number one

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Douglas A. McIntyre, Alexander E.M. Hess, Thomas C. Frohlich, Alexander Kent, Brian Zajac and Ashley C. Allen

No one knows more about a workplace than its employees. Employee opinions reflect basic measures, such as pay, perks, benefits, and hours worked. But they are also influenced by factors such as a company’s culture, internal politics, and even general mood — intangibles that can be lost in internal audits and consultancy surveys.

While companies have websites, public relations teams, and recruiters to tailor their message to prospective hires, employees have far fewer forums to communicate their views. Glassdoor.com, a career community website, provides the opportunity for employees to give their own opinions, and for potential employees to research the company. To identify the 75 Best Companies to Work For, 24/7 Wall St. examined company ratings provided by current and former employees to Glassdoor.com. (See how we made our list on the last page of this article.)

MORE: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

Employees in certain sectors are far more likely to offer a positive opinion of their employer than others. Technology companies are certainly well represented among the highest-rated employers, as are consulting firms. Of the 75 best companies, only 12 received an average rating of 4.0 or higher out of 5. Of these, four are in the technology space — Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Riverbed Technology — and three are consulting firms.

Being a market leader also appears to help. Many well-reviewed companies are the leaders in their respective industries, and as a result are financially successful. Apple, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney are all among the top-rated employers on Glassdoor.com and among the largest public companies in the world by market capitalization. Others are leaders in public relations, like Edelman and auditing giant EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

Many of the best companies to work for have cultivated an extremely strong reputation among the broader public as well. American Express, Facebook, Google, and SAP are all among the best companies to work for and among the top companies by brand value, according to brand consultancy BrandZ. Top employers also perform well according to other measures of brand awareness, such as CoreBrand and Interbrand.

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Not surprisingly, companies with strong employee reviews also give CEOs good grades. It would seem leadership matters, not just for running a company and producing returns for shareholders, but also for promoting employee satisfaction. Among the 75 best companies to work for, 38 have CEOs with an approval rating of 90% or higher. In all, just 10 CEOs have an approval rating below 80%, and all have the endorsement of at least two-thirds of their employees.

Employees at these companies also frequently cite a good office culture and work-life balance. In many cases, employees also praise a company if it promotes learning or training opportunities and career development. At several of these companies, employees also note a good benefits package, which is uncommon in many industries, such as retail.

These are America’s Best Companies to Work For

1. LinkedIn
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 97% (Jeff Weiner)
> Employees: 5,045
> Revenue: $1.5 billion

According to the company: “Founded in 2003, LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. With over 300 million members worldwide…LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.”

LinkedIn is the nation’s best company to work for, based on ratings awarded by current and former employees at Glassdoor.com. Of course, high pay doesn’t hurt employee morale. According to Glassdoor.com, the average software engineer reported an annual salary of $127,817, while the average senior software engineer reported an annual salary of $145,192. Like other technology companies, LinkedIn has excellent perks and good, free food, but employees at the company also rave about good work-life balance and a confident, inspired leadership. In fact, 97% of reviewers have a high opinion of CEO Jeff Weiner, higher than all but a few other CEOs. However, LinkedIn is also proof no employer is perfect — the company recently agreed to pay $6 million to hundreds of employees for unpaid overtime, plus damages.

2. Facebook
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 96% (Mark Zuckerberg)
> Employees: 6,337
> Revenue: $7.9 billion

According to the company: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”

Facebook is a rapidly growing and highly profitable company. It is also increasingly successful at reaching users on their mobile phones. The company’s success has not only captivated investors — Facebook’s market capitalization is currently $189 billion — but also potential employees. In fact, technology giant Google was so worried about employees leaving for Facebook that it began to provide a counter offer to employees recruited by Facebook within one hour, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Strong benefits and perks are just one of the repeatedly mentioned advantages of working at Facebook, according to Glassdoor.com. A relatively flat hierarchy and a fast-paced workday are other characteristics of the company that employees enjoy.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Shame

3. Eastman Chemical
> Glassdoor rating: 4.5
> CEO rating: 91% (Mark J. Costa)
> Employees: 14,000
> Revenue: $9.4 billion

According to the company: “Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day.”

Specialty chemicals maker Eastman receives rave reviews from employees. Workers at Eastman frequently cite work-life balance, helpful colleagues and strong teamwork, as well as a good corporate culture in their reviews. Workers also praise the company’s dedication to workplace safety. According to the company, safety forms one of Eastman’s core values. The company publicly tracks and discloses its own safety track record, as well as its internal goals for workplace safety. The small town nature of Kingsport, Tennessee, where Eastman is headquartered, is among the few complaints occasionally mentioned in Glassdoor.com reviews.

4. Insight Global
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 94% (Glenn Johnson)
> Employees: N/A
> Revenue: $918 million

According to the company: “Through a nationwide network of 37 regional offices, Insight Global provides clients exceptional IT technicians and consultants to meet the demanding technology challenges of today.”

Insight Global is an IT staffing firm, filling over 20,000 positions a year, according to the company. Workers who were assigned jobs through the company rave about its staffing practices, noting that Insight Global’s recruiters are polite and exceptionally helpful. Many reviewers on Glassdoor.com also note that they were placed very quickly. In one such review a worker notes, “I literally got a job in under 24 hours!” Insight Global says it is on track to exceed $1 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2014.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Fame

5. Bain & Company
> Glassdoor rating: 4.4
> CEO rating: 99% (Bob Bechek)
> Employees: 5,500
> Revenue: $2.1 billion

According to the company: “Bain & Company is one of the world’s leading management consulting firms. We work with top executives to help them make better decisions, convert those decisions to actions, and deliver the sustainable success they desire.”

Bain & Company is the highest-rated consulting firm on this list, surpassing rivals McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group. Bain notes on its website that, historically, client companies have dramatically outperformed the S&P 500. Also indicative of the company’s success, current worldwide managing director Bob Bechek received a nearly unanimous approval rating of 99%. Employees praise the company on multiple fronts, citing its emphasis on professional development and the quality of the workplace culture at Bain. When employees do complain, it is about long hours and demanding travel schedules.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME Companies

These Are the Companies With the Worst Customer Service

Wells Fargo has become the leading bank in home mortgages. Photo: Shutterstock

Not great

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By , , , and

When it comes to companies we dread dealing with, we all know who they are. Let’s put it this way, would you rather go to the Apple Genius Bar to fix something with your iPhone or to the Bank of America teller to reverse a surprise interest charge?

It’s perhaps no wonder Bank of America leads the nation in bad customer service. The massive U.S. financial institution has made the Customer Service Hall of Shame every year since 2009.

In collaboration with research survey group Zogby Analytics, we polled 2,500 adults about the quality of customer service at 150 of America’s best-known companies in 15 industries, asking if that service was “excellent,” “good,” “fair” or “poor.”

Those with the highest percentages of “excellent” rankings make up the Customer Service Hall of Fame; those with the highest share “poor” ratings make up our Customer Service Hall of Shame. (See how the survey was done and full results on the last page of this article.)

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Many of the other companies with the bottom-rated customer service have earned spots on the Hall of Shame list in the past. Eight of the 10 companies in the Hall of Shame have made at least three previous appearances since 2009.

It is difficult for businesses in some industries to win consumer praise. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup — three of the largest banks in the country — received some of the worst customer service ratings in the nation.

For banks, the many fees they charge may contribute to a customer’s poor evaluation of a company. “As soon as you take out your Bank of America ATM card you get charged,” said Praveen Kopalle, professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

In addition to unpleasant and repeated charges and fees, these large banks engaged in questionable and often unlawful behavior that contributed to the housing crisis. For example, “[Banks] assured customers that [mortgage-backed securities] were actually good products when, in fact, they were pretty toxic,” Kopalle said.

Cable and satellite TV companies are another segment that has repeatedly received poor customer service ratings. Shep Hyken, a customer satisfaction expert, explained that these companies are often unclear about their service charges. “Customers get shocked when they get their bill,” Hyken said.

In some instances, companies have little incentive to offer good service. “If people really don’t like the customer service that they receive from telecom companies, they don’t have a lot of choice,” Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, explained. Without competition from other companies, “there is just not that pressure to deliver great service.”

Future consolidation in these industries may exacerbate the problem. Companies like AT&T and DirecTV, as well as Time Warner Cable and Comcast, are driving merger and acquisition activity that will likely close this year, pending government approval.

Many of the companies with the worst customer service, however, are still market leaders and manage to maintain impressive profit margins. Seven of the 10 companies in the Hall of Shame dominate their industries.

This is 24/7 Wall St.’s Customer Service Hall of Shame:

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10. Citigroup
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 15.3% (credit card), 15.1% (banking)

More than 15% of respondents said they had a “poor” experience with both Citigroup Inc.’s (NYSE: C) credit card and banking businesses.

However, Citigroup is hardly alone among financial institutions in receiving low ratings for its customer service. Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo had worse-rated banking operations. While missing from the bottom 10, Capital One and J.P. Morgan Chase also received low ratings.

The banking industry as a whole suffers from bad press, likely due to its involvement in the financial crisis. According to analyst Dick Bove, penalties, regulations and rule changes have made quality customer service even more difficult to deliver.

“The banks responded by taking away millions of credit cards from customers that they could no longer do business with on a profitable basis,” Bove said.

While customers gave Citi’s credit card and banking service low grades, the bank performed well overall in the Pew Charitable Trusts’ most recent annual survey on consumer banking practices. Citi’s policies include five of the seven “best practices” endorsed by the study.

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9. Wells Fargo
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 16.2% (credit card), 15.0% (banking)

More than 16% of survey participants said their experience with Wells Fargo’s credit card business was “poor.” Wells Fargo’s banking operations did not fare much better for customer service. About 15% reported a “poor” customer service experience for Well Fargo as a bank.

The company declined an interview. In written statement, it said that it was committed to improving customer experience, and that it was “always looking for ways to apply their input and further strengthen our customer service.”

Although Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) has largely avoided the financial crisis-related fines several of its competitors paid, it has not been immune to scrutiny. The bank, which is the largest provider of home loans, was sued by the Federal Housing Authority in 2012 for bad mortgages. Like other banks, continuous criticism since the financial crisis is likely a major component of Wells Fargo’s customer dissatisfaction.

According to Bove, bad press is only part of the problem. Strict regulations and large fines can have a considerable impact on customer relations as banks are forced to implement cost-cutting measures that may inconvenience consumers.

8. AT&T
> Pct. ratings “poor”: 17.5%

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is hardly the only mobile telephone company that received a disproportionate number of negative reviews for its customer service. In fact, all four of the nation’s leading mobile carriers were among the bottom fifth of companies evaluated.

Although the company’s record of customer service is spotty, AT&T has developed several initiatives designed to improve customer outreach. Among these, the company wrote in its annual report that it had 70 staffers dedicated to customer care on social media platforms. Additionally, last year AT&T streamlined its call center menus, cut waiting times, and trained specialized employees to handle smartphone operating system-related questions.

“Three or four years ago, the customer service at AT&T was very poor, but they really have come a long way,” Kopalle said. Now, “They pick up the phone pretty fast, they resolve your situation very quickly.” However, Kopalle noted that AT&T’s service is hardly perfect. “I think they still suffer from a number of dropped calls. That’s not really a good thing.”

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7 Wall St.

 

TIME cities

These Are America’s 10 Saddest Ghost Towns

Empty buildings and streets in downtown Cawker City, Kansas.
Empty buildings and streets in downtown Cawker City, Kansas. Mike Theiss—National Geographic/Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By and

While there are a variety of options for homeowners in foreclosure, many have chosen to cut their losses and abandon their property. The housing market has been improving across much of the nation. However, some cities still have a long recovery process ahead of them as the market deals with a glut of homes in foreclosure, which can often stay in the system for several years. Meanwhile, many of these remain vacant.

In Wichita, Kansas, nearly half of homes in foreclosure were abandoned as of the first quarter of 2014. In six of the nation’s most populous metro areas, at least a third of homes in foreclosure were vacant. Based on data provided by housing data website RealtyTrac for the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, these are the cities where residents are abandoning their homes.

Median housing prices in all but one of the metro areas with the most vacant homes were among the lowest in the country. In addition, housing prices fell during the last 12 months in four of the 10 cities: Boise, St. Louis, Syracuse, and Wichita. Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, explained that this drop in prices creates a problem for both banks and homeowners because neither wants to hold on to a depreciating asset. This increases the likelihood that homeowners will abandon their homes and banks may find that foreclosing on the home could be more expensive than writing it off.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Slowest Growing Economies

The length of the entire foreclosure process is a major contributor to vacancy rates because homeowners are more likely to give up on their homes the longer they have to wait for a resolution. Blomquist explained that as foreclosure processes stretch on for years and years, homeowners begin to believe they will not be able to save the house and decide to move on with their lives.

In fact, several of these cities with the most abandoned homes are in states with very lengthy average foreclosure times. Palm Bay, for example, is located in Florida, where the average foreclosure process took 935 days to complete in the first quarter, the second-longest time among all states.

While lengthy and exhausting foreclosure processes encourage some homeowners to abandon their homes, in other cases, people intentionally move away early because they don’t fully understanding the process. With changing housing laws in many states, “homeowners may have more options than they realize to avoid foreclosure,” Blomquist said.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest vacancy rates among homes in foreclosure, based on data provided by RealtyTrac for the 100 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. RealtyTrac also provided metro-level median home prices, population, and foreclosure rates, all of which are for the most recent available period. 24/7 Wall St. calculated 12 month average home prices and year-over-year percent change from May of each year. RealtyTrac also provided the average length of foreclosure processes in each state, as of the first quarter of 2014. We also reviewed income data from the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, and unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are the cities with the most abandoned homes.

5. St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.

> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 34%
> Total vacated homes: 847 (27th highest)
> Average home price: $96,083 (14th lowest)

The number of vacant homes in the St. Louis area dropped by nearly 50% between the second quarters of 2013 and this year. Despite this, still more than a third of the area’s 2,500 properties in foreclosure were vacant as of the second quarter. Residents of the St. Louis area are subject to either Missouri’s non-judicial foreclosure process or Illinois’ judicial one. The average lengths of proceedings in both states, however, are exceptionally high and have been on the rise in the last year. A complete foreclosure process took roughly one year on average in Missouri and more than 800 days in Illinois, both among the longer proceedings compared to other large metro areas. Long foreclosure procedures in both states likely contributed to the area’s 34% vacancy rate.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

4. Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 36%
> Total vacated homes: 305 (47th lowest)
> Average home price: $150,717 (42nd highest)

While housing prices in the country rose over the last two years, housing prices in the Kansas City metro area declined 9%. Additionally, the foreclosure rate in the first quarter of 2014 declined by more than 50% from the same period in 2012. Despite the drop in owner vacated homes and the falling foreclosure rate, home prices in the Kansas City metro area fell 9% since 2012, one of the higher declines in the country. Declining home prices may explain why more than one in 10 foreclosed homes in January 2014 failed to sell at auction and were repossessed by the bank, one of the higher rates on this list. This may be a sign that the housing market has not fully recovered.

3. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 37%
> Total vacated homes: 428 (43rd highest)
> Average home price: $149,682 (44th highest)

The Birmingham-Hoover region was the only metro area on this list where the unemployment rate rose between the first quarters of 2013 and 2014. High unemployment may, in part, contribute to owner vacancies rising 19% between the first and second quarters of 2014 as owners who lost their jobs may have been afraid of going into foreclosure, as Blomquist suggested. In the first quarter of 2014, it took just 193 days to complete foreclosure proceedings. And while area home prices rose in recent years, they still remain among the lowest in the country.

2. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 37%
> Total vacated homes: 804 (30th highest)
> Average home price: $251,888 (12th highest)

Low, declining home prices can lead to higher vacancy rates, as owners are more likely to give up on a property depreciating in value. Prices in the Portland region, however, are exceptionally high. Over the 12 months prior to this past May, a home in the area sold for more than $251,000 on average, among the most compared to other large metro areas. And prices are rising — the median home price in May was up 22% from the same period a year before, one of the larger increases among metro areas reviewed. While the region’s vacancy rate is second only to Wichita, there are signs of improvement for the Portland area. The average length of foreclosure proceedings in Oregon fell 20% over the year prior to the first quarter, which may make homeowners less likely to abandon a property.

1. Wichita, Kan.
> Pct. foreclosures vacated: 49%
> Total vacated homes: 146 (30th lowest)
> Average home price: $131,292 (39th highest)

There were only 301 properties in foreclosure in Wichita as of the second quarter of this year. Nearly half of those, however, had been abandoned by their owners, the highest vacancy rate among the nation’s largest metro areas. Like many metro areas where residents are abandoning their homes, Wichita is located in a state with a judicial foreclosure system, which tends to lengthen the proceedings. The average foreclosure process in the first quarter took 524 days in Kansas, up 34% from the same period a year before and among the higher wait times among major U.S. metro areas. Another factor contributing to the region’s high vacancy rate is likely low and depreciating home prices — as the value of a home decreases, the financial pressure of an unpaid mortgage will go up. Home prices in Wichita were 3% lower in May 2014 than they were in May of last year.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME drinking

10 States That Drink the Most Beer

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

By Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlich

In recent years, Americans have increasingly moved away from beer consumption in favor of wines and spirits. U.S. beer consumption fell slightly from 28.3 gallons per drinking-aged adult in 2012 to 27.6 gallons last year.

Despite declining across the United States overall, beer consumption remains quite high in some states. According to a recent study from Beer Marketer’s Insights, a brewing industry trade publisher, North Dakota residents consumed 43.3 gallons of beer per drinking-age adult in 2013, the most of any state. This was more than double the 19.6 gallons per legal age adult consumed in Utah, which drank the least beer. Based on figures from Beer Marketer’s Insights, these are the states that drink the most beer.

Between 2002 and 2012, the share of Americans’ total alcohol intake coming from beer has declined. The average drinking age adult drank the equivalent of 1.39 gallons of pure ethanol alcohol from beer in 2002, with a total intake of 2.39 gallons from all drinks consumed. In 2012, Americans pure alcohol intake was 2.46 gallons per person. Americans’ alcohol intake from wine and spirits rose by 15.2% and 20.9%, respectively, between 2002 and 2012. Meanwhile, intake from beer dropped by 8.6%.

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While some of the states that drink the most beer generally followed this national trend, other states did not. Between 2002 and 2012, alcohol intake from beer consumption declined by 17.4% in Nevada, one of the top beer drinking states. In that time, alcohol intake from wine rose by more than 30%. On the other hand, alcohol intake from beer rose by more than 10% in both Vermont and Maine, also among the top beer drinking states.

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is associated with a range of health problems. One in 10 deaths among working age adults in the United States is due to excessive drinking, according to figures recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the study, “Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.” Leading the nation in beer consumption, however, did not necessarily increase years lost per legal-age adult. Only three of the top beer drinking states exceeded the national average for years of potential life lost per 100,000 residents between 2006 and 2010.

According to Mandy Stahre, a co-author on the CDC’s study and an epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, health outcomes such as alcohol attributable death rates are influenced by a number of factors, not only drinking patterns. “The number and the enforcement of alcohol control policies … sociodemographics, religious affiliation, race and ethnicity” all can play a role in determining the health consequences of drinking.

In an email to 24/7 Wall St., Eric Shepard, vice president and executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, highlighted a study from the U.K.-based Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market think tank. The study explores the relationship between problematic drinking and consumption levels.

Policy makers often believe that high per capita consumption leads to excessive drinking, which includes heavy and binge drinking. However, the study’s authors contend that “per capita alcohol consumption largely depends on the amount of heavy drinking in the population, not vice versa.” Stahre added the she, too, was aware of studies that showed “a good proportion of the alcohol that was consumed was being consumed in a manner [associated with] binge drinking.”

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The states with the highest beer consumption rates also had high rates of heavy drinking — defined as more than two drinks per day for men and more than one drink per day for women. In Montana and Wisconsin, 8.5% of adults were heavy drinkers as of 2012, tied for the most in the United States and well above the national rate of 6.1%. Additionally, seven of the states that drink the most beer had among the 10 highest rates of binge drinking — defined by the CDC for women as consuming four or more drinks, and five or more drinks in the case of men, during a single sitting.

Interestingly, while excessive alcohol use is hardly a healthy behavior, many of the states with the highest beer consumption rates were also likely to practice a range of healthy behaviors such as exercising regularly and eating well. People in Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Vermont, for example, were all among the most likely Americans to eat healthy all day last year. Residents of Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Vermont were among the most likely to exercise regularly.

Stahre noted, however, that people are often better at keeping track of other behaviors than they are about drinking. “Because if you aren’t paying the bill or not paying attention to the number of drinks you have, you could really be underestimating what your consumption is.”

To identify the states with the highest beer consumption rates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Beer Marketer’s Insights’ recent report on alcohol consumption. Drinking habits were measured in gallons shipped to distributors annually per 100,000 drinking-age adults. Adult heavy and binge drinking statistics are from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and are for 2012. We also utilized figures from a recent CDC study, titled “Contribution of Excessive Alcohol Consumption to Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States.” This study examined data from 2006 through 2010 for Americans of all ages. We also reviewed healthy behaviors and health outcomes from Gallup’s 2013 HealthWays Well-Being Index. Economic data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Brewery totals are from the Beer Institute’s 2013 Brewer’s Almanac and are for 2012. Tax data are from the Federation of Tax Administrators and are current as of January 2014.

These are the states that drink the most beer.

5. Vermont
> Per capita consumption: 35.9 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.02 gallons (7th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 19.3% (10th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 25

While Americans nationwide drank less beer in 2012 than they did in 2002, Vermonters consumed 11.2% more alcohol from beer. This was the largest increase in the country. The dramatic spike may be due in part to growing enthusiasm for craft beers, for which Vermont has become famous. Several local Vermont beers have been rated among the world’s best, and in some cases black markets have emerged in the wake of excess demand. Like several other states with the highest beer consumption rates, wine has also become considerably more popular in recent years. Drinking-age Vermonters consumed nearly one-fifth of a gallon more alcohol from wine in 2012 than they did in 2002, the largest increase in gallons nationwide, and roughly four times the increase across the country.

4. South Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 38.1 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 2.94 gallons (8th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 20.6% (8th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 10

South Dakota adults consumed 11.4% more pure alcohol in 2012 than they did in 2002, a larger increase than in all but a handful of states. Most of this increase came from spikes in wine and spirits consumption. While alcohol intake from beer grew by less than 1% — still one of the larger increases nationwide — legal-age adults in South Dakota increased both their wine and spirits intake by more than 30% over that time. Binge drinking may have contributed substantially to the state’s consumption totals. More than 20% of legal-age adults in South Dakota reported consuming at least four drinks in a sitting in 2012, among the highest binge drinking rates nationwide.

3. Montana
> Per capita consumption: 40.5 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.13 gallons (6th highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 21.8% (5th highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 31

A legal age Montana resident consumed an average of 40.5 gallons of beer in 2013, down from more than 43 gallons in 2009. Montana residents were largely beer drinkers, even though the state ranked 12th in total alcohol intake from spirits in 2012, per capita intake from wine was roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Dangerous drinking was also quite common in the state, where 8.5% of adults were heavy drinkers in 2012, tied with Wisconsin for highest rate in the nation. Additionally, almost 22% of the adult population engaged in binge drinking, more than in all but a few states. High levels of drinking had notable health implications for residents as well. There were 37.7 alcohol-attributable deaths per 100,000 residents in Montana between 2006 and 2010, more than in all but two other states.

2. New Hampshire
> Per capita consumption: 42.2 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 4.74 gallons (the highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 17.0% (22nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 21

New Hampshire trailed only one other state in total per capita beer consumption in 2013, and it was the nation’s leading state for beer drinking as recently as 2011. Additionally, New Hampshire led the nation in per capita intake of alcohol in 2012, with residents drinking the equivalent of 4.7 gallons of pure alcohol that year on average, versus 2.5 gallons per legal adult nationwide. However, these figures may be somewhat distorted by sales to non-residents by liquor stores located near state borders. Visitors often buy liquor and wine in the state because of the lack of tax at state-run liquor stores.

1. North Dakota
> Per capita consumption: 43.3 gallons
> Alcohol intake per capita (2012): 3.69 gallons (2nd highest)
> Pct. binge drinkers: 24.1% (2nd highest)
> Total brewers (2012): 4

North Dakota residents are the nation’s largest beer drinkers, consuming an average of 43.3 gallons per drinking age adult in 2013. One reason for this may be binge drinking. In 2012, more than 24% of the adult population reported binge drinking, more than in any state except for Wisconsin. Between 2002 and 2012, North Dakota led the nation with a 24% increase in pure alcohol consumption per capita. By comparison, consumption nationwide rose by slightly less than 3% in that time. Most of the increase in alcohol intake between 2002 and 2012 came from higher spirits consumption. High levels of beer consumption, binge drinking and alcohol intake may be related to the state’s attractiveness to younger Americans looking for work. North Dakota had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate in 2013 and has had the nation’s fastest growing state economy in each of the past four years.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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A Volvo S60 at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland. Harold Cunningham—Getty Images

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

The American auto industry nearly collapsed during the recession as car sales plummeted and companies struggled to stay afloat. Since then, U.S. car and light truck sales have steadily increased, reaching 1.6 million in May, up 11% from the year before.

Despite the general recovery, demand for some vehicles continues to underwhelm. According to figures from TrueCar, an auto industry information and technology platform, 15 models spent an average of at least 90 days on dealers’ lots before being sold. No car took longer to turn over than the Volvo S60, at an average of 155.5 days.

Click here to see the ten cars Americans don’t want to buy

Days to turn is useful metric for gauging inventory levels, Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar, explained in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. “The clock starts when the car lands at the dealership,” Lyman said. This levels the playing field, he added, because production facilities for various carmakers are located at different points across the U.S. or even in foreign countries.

According to Lyman, several factors may contribute to rising inventory levels. Some of these are temporary factors, such as the switch to a new model year. Because TrueCar data for 2014 covers cars in their 2014 model years, it makes sense that turnover rates are lower for models such as the GM’s (NYSE: GM) GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Cadillac Escalade, all of which have released newly overhauled 2015 models.

In other cases, Lyman added, “high inventory is going to be [due] to a disconnect between the sales goals of the manufacturer and the retail demand for those units.” In some instances, manufacturers overestimate demand for their brands and ship too many units to their dealers. This results in high inventory and turnover levels for the brands.

Many of the brands that take the longest to sell are unpopular with customers, Lyman explained. Both Mitsubishi and Scion have car models that take the most days to turn. Both were also two of the nation’s lowest rated car brands, according to J.D. Power’s 2013 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, which measures brands’ appeal with car buyers.

Cars from Cadillac, Ford’s (NYSE: F) Lincoln, Jaguar and Volvo, all of which ranked in the bottom half of premium brands, according to the study, also made the list. Only one of the cars with the highest days to turn, the Chevrolet Tahoe, was manufactured by one of the survey’s 10 highest rated non-premium brands.

Although there are differences in how brands are perceived, Lyman added that disparities in actual quality among various brands is often relatively small. Five of the 10 cars requiring the most days to sell were made by brands with above-average scores on J.D. Power’s 2013 Initial Quality Study. Leading these brands was GMC, maker of the Yukon, which trailed only Porsche for fewest problems per 100 cars, according to the Survey. Only three models belonged to brands with scores considerably below the industry average, although one of these, Scion, was the lowest-rated brand in J.D. Power’s survey.

Based on figures provided by TrueCar, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the car models with the highest number of days to turn. TrueCar turnover and sales data for each model reference a particular model year — figures for 2013 apply to cars in their 2013 model year, while figures for 2014 count data for 2014 model year vehicles. TrueCar also provided sales data for each of these models. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) data are from manufacturer’s website, and refer to the newest model year. We also relied on information from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports surveys, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Safety data are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Sales figures are from The Wall Street Journal, as well as various company press releases.

These are the cars Americans don’t want to buy.

3. Cadillac Escalade
> Days to turn: 115.5
> Jan.-May unit sales: 1,498
> MSRP: $71,695

The Cadillac Escalade is one of three full-size General Motors SUVs among the 10 cars with the longest days to turn, alongside Chevrolet’s Tahoe and GMC’s Yukon. It is also the slowest selling American manufactured car, taking an average of 115.5 days to turn in the first five months of 2014. This is up from 61.2 days to turn between January and May 2013, as sales have dropped 14.7% year-over-year. However, this may not necessarily be an issue of quality. General Motors recently released a new Escalade, which may affect sales and turnover for the 2014 model year. In fact, Cadillac was one of the top-ranked makes in J.D. Power’s 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, behind only Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. Consumers were also happy with the brand, awarding it one of the industry’s highest ACSI scores.

2. Mitsubishi Outlander
> Days to turn: 117.1
> Jan.-May unit sales: 3,788
> MSRP: $22,995

The Mitsubishi Outlander took dealers an average of 117.1 days to turn so far this year. This was actually an improvement from last year, when it took dealers nearly 128 days to turn an Outlander. Sales of the Outlander have also been strong this year, up 37% in the first five months of 2014 versus the year before. Overall, sales of Mitsubishi cars rose nearly 34% in that time. However, the carmaker still holds just a 0.5% share of the U.S. car market. Mitsubishi’s model competes in a crowded field against some of the nation’s best selling cars, such as Toyota’s RAV4, Honda’s CR-V and Ford’s Escape.

ALSO READ: Ten States with the Fastest Growing Economies

1. Volvo S60
> Days to turn: 155.5
> Jan.-May unit sales: 1,777
> MSRP: $33,300

Volvo’s S60 had the longest average days to turn of any car model sold in the U.S., taking an average of 155.5 days to turn in the first five months of 2014. This was more than twice as long as it took to turn an S60 last year. Sales of the S60 have slid as well, with just 1,777 sold this year through May, down 13% from the same period in 2013. So far this year, total Volvo sales are down roughly 10% nationwide. As a brand, Volvo has long been considered a carmaker in need of a turnaround. Ford sold it to Chinese carmaker Geely in 2010. The brand still maintains a reputation for safety, and the S60 earned a five star safety rating from the NHTSA and was an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ last year.

For the rest of the list, go to 24/7Wall St.

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TIME Business

8 Companies That Seriously Owe Their Employees a Raise

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Should companies with higher profit margins pay employees better?

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This post is in partnership with 24/7Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

With the stock market reaching new heights daily, companies’ profit margins at multi-decade highs, and falling unemployment, many Americans may be wondering when they will start to see the benefits of the U.S. economic recovery. For many workers, wages have remained stagnant even as the economy is making positive strides.

A number of America’s most successful companies employ large numbers of low-wage workers. These workers are hired to staff stores, call centers, and restaurants. These workers are typically paid hourly, and oftentimes earn little above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Oftentimes, these employees serve as the face of their companies and spend most of their workday interacting with consumers.

Click here to see the companies that owe their employees a raise

Not all employees at these companies are paid modest salaries. While customer account executives at Comcast earn $13.26 per hour on average, according to Glassdoor.com figures, stars of the company’s NBC television network shows were paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year. And while the average attractions cast member at Disney’s parks and resorts earned just $16.39 per hour, Disney also employs far higher-paid workers at its ABC and ESPN television networks.

Recently, a number of these companies have chosen to use their resources for massive deal making. In February, Comcast announced a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in stock value. In May, AT&T agreed to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Regulators have yet to approve the deals. Last year, Verizon signed on to an even bigger deal when it bought out British telecom Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion.

Of course, companies may not necessarily have an obligation to pay their employees a higher wage. If the recent spate of mega deals is any indication, companies can spend huge amounts to help provide better returns to their shareholders.

However, many argue that companies still spend too much in executive compensation. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts earned more than $31 million last year in salary, stock options and awards, and other benefits. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, received more than $100 million in total compensation from 2011 through 2013. Outsized salaries like these appear especially disproportionate when compared to low-wage workers.

Based on data provided by Capital IQ on S&P 500 companies, 24/7 Wall St. identified corporations with high operating income, high operating profit margins, and major one-year growth in operating income. In order to be considered, companies had to be in a customer-facing industry and have a large number of low-wage workers. We excluded financial companies, such as banks and thrifts, because the data we used to measure profitability is inadequate for judging the industry’s performance. Employee totals by company are from Yahoo! Finance. CEO pay is from filings submitted by public companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Figures on compensation are from Glassdoor.com and are self-reported by users to the website.

1. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 48.3%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 359.9%
> Total employees: 51,200
> Total CEO compensation: $14.2 million

ime Warner Cable is one of the nation’s largest telecom companies, with revenue of more than $22 billion and operating income of $4.6 billion last year. Although Time Warner Cable is not growing especially quickly, it continues to generate large amounts of cash from its operations and return profits to shareholders. The company’s stock has been one of the S&P 500′s better performers over the past twelve months, up 48.3% in that time. Some of the stock price rally is the result of the company’s deal with Comcast, which agreed in February to acquire Time Warner Cable. The merger will combine the nation’s two largest cable operators. But while shareholders reap the benefits of the deal, many employees may be left in the lurch as a result. Part of the deal’s appeal is an estimated $1.5 billion in savings from operating efficiencies, which may include job cuts. According to Glassdoor.com, the average customer service representative at Time Warner Cable makes just $11.85 an hour, and the average inbound sales representative earns just $11.41 an hour.

ALSO READ: The States With the Strongest and Weakest Unions

2. Public Storage (NYSE: PSA)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 12.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 156.7%
> Total employees: 5,200
> Total CEO compensation: $9.2 million

Public Storage owns more than 2,200 self-storage facilities across the U.S. and Europe. Because of its low-cost business model, Public Storage recorded a nearly 50% operating margin in its latest fiscal year, higher than nearly all other companies in the S&P 500. Its earnings were actually higher than its operating income because of the earnings it recorded from its investments in Shurgard Europe, a European storeage company, and PS Business Parks, a U.S. commercial real estate company. While highly profitable, Public Storage pays the average relief manager just $10.57 per hour, and the average property manager only $10.50 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com.

3. Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NASDAQ: KORS)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 49.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 290.3%
> Total employees: 9,184
> Total CEO compensation: $7.6 million

Michael Kors’ retail operations have grown rapidly in recent years, with comparable store sales up 26.2% last year, due largely to increased sales of accessories and watches.The company also added more than 100 new stores in most recent fiscal last year. Alongside the expansion, total operating expenses increased considerably during fiscal 2013 by about $331 million. As a percent of revenue, however, the company’s operating costs actually declined. While the overall dollaramount allocated to salaries increased from the previous fiscal year, Kors sales associates are paid an average of just $10.37 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com, although they can also earn commissions.

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9 Cities Where Americans Are Getting Rich Right Now

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This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

The United States is still slowly recovering from the recession, and incomes across the nation have declined in recent years. Nationwide, median household income was $51,771 a year during the three-year period of 2010 to 2012, a decline of 5.8% compared with the previous three-year period of 2007 to 2009, when the U.S. median household income was $54,951 a year.

The economic recovery is not uniform across the country, as some cities have weathered the financial crisis better than others. Median incomes increased by more than 15% in nine U.S. cities between the three-year periods of 2007 to 2009 and 2010 to 2012, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. A typical New Bern, N.C., resident earned 25.3% more between 2010 and 2012 compared with the prior three-year period of between 2007 and 2009.

Click here to see the nine cities where wealth is soaring

Unsurprisingly, the poverty rates in many of these towns improved with rising median household incomes. The proportion of residents living in poverty declined by more than six percentage points in two of the cities on our list, West Lafayette, Ind., and Manhattan, Kan. The poverty rate in all but one city on our list declined, versus a nationwide increase of more than two percentage points.

One factor that may have helped median incomes in these cities grow is the fact that incomes were often low to begin with, Austin Nichols, Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute, told 24/7 Wall St. Because of the beginning low base income, “A $1,000 change in some places is going to be effectively 0% change and in some places it’s going to be a [much] higher percentage change,” Nichols said. With the exception of Bentonville, Ark., all the cities with the largest income gains were in the bottom quartile for income nationwide between 2007 and 2009.

Still, income changes in some of these places have actually been quite large, even when measured in dollar terms. All but one of the nine cities where wealth has soared had among the 15 largest dollar changes in median income. Just three of these nine cities were still in the bottom quartile for income between 2010 and 2012.

MORE: Ten Cities Where Young People Can’t Find Work

Education is among the industries less likely to suffer from a recession, Nichols told 24/7 Wall St. Large universities tend to offer more stable employment than many other sectors. According to Nichols, “Universities and usually governments are countercyclical,” which means institutions like “public administration and education are more protected from the recession.” Manhattan, Kan., Stillwater, Okla., Nacogdoches, Texas, and West Lafayette, Ind., are all homes to large public universities. The presence of colleges in many cities may also have contributed to lower median incomes, since few students hold full-time jobs while at school.

To identify the cities with the biggest increases in wealth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 2012 three-year estimates. Three years’ worth of data (2010 to 2012) allow for the review of smaller cities. Checking the Census Bureau’s comparison table for statistical significance, we compared this three-year period to the 2007 to 2009 period. The cities with populations of 25,000 or more with the largest percentage increase in household median income made our list. Worth noting, Urban Institute’s Nichols said that large changes may be statistically significant “even if they are primarily due to measurement error.” To be consistent, we used three-year averages for national figures as well. In addition to income figures, we collected home values, poverty and employment by industry, all using the ACS. We reviewed annual average unemployment rate figures over the past six full years from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are the cities where wealth is soaring.

5. Del Rio, Texas
> Pct. increase in income: 19.9%
> Median household income: $40,307
> Poverty rate: 21.2%
> Population: 35,612

Del Rio benefits from the presence of Laughlin Air Force Base, which provides massive economic benefits to the local economy. Del Rio’s economy also benefits from its proximity to far-larger Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. Also, the city’s total labor force grew by more than 10% between the two three-year periods beginning in 2007 and in 2010. Unlike other parts of Texas, Del Rio’s economy has not traditionally been a stronghold for oil and gas. Agriculture and mining accounted for just 3.2% of total civilian employment between 2010 and 2012, although the sector grew by 146% between the three-year periods starting in 2007 and 2010. While some areas of the city’s economy are growing, others are in decline. Construction dropped to just 3.6% of employment during the period of 2010 to 2012, down from 7.3% during the period of 2007 to 2009. Additionally, the city’s unemployment rate was 7.4% in 2012, still above pre-recession rates.

MORE: America’s Most Miserable Cities

4. Bridgeton, N.J.
> Pct. increase in income: 21.6%
> Median household income: $39,890
> Poverty rate: 34.0%
> Population: 25,298

The agricultural industry has always been strong in Bridgeton, accounting for more than 5% of the region’s employment between 2007 and 2009, compared with less than 2% of employment nationwide. By the three-year period ending in 2012, the agricultural, forestry and mining sector’s share of employment in the city had more than doubled, making up 11.8% of the workforce. Despite the rise in agricultural employment and the increase in incomes, Bridgeton residents are still some of the poorest in the country. Unlike the other cities with rising incomes, poverty in Bridgeton worsened in the years under review. The poverty rate increased by 8.8 percentage points from the 2007 to 2009 period to the 2010 to 2012 period, among the worst nationwide.

3. West Lafayette, Ind.
> Pct. increase in income: 22.2%
> Median household income: $30,498
> Poverty rate: 36.4%
> Population: 30,238

Between 2007 and 2009, 10.4% of the population earned less than $10,000 a year, among the worst nationwide and roughly double the national rate of 5.7%. Extreme poverty had improved dramatically by the end of the three-year period ending in 2012, when just 0.2% of residents earned less than $10,000 a year. While the city’s median household income of slightly more than $30,000 was still considerably lower than the national median over that time, the city’s labor market was relatively healthy. In every year between 2007 and 2012, the unemployment rate remained far lower than the national rate. The sorts of jobs offered by Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, may account in part for the region’s stable labor force, since university jobs tend to be less volatile compared with those in other industries.

ALSO READ: America’s Most (and Least) Literate Cities

2. Nacogdoches, Texas
> Pct. increase in income: 23.7%
> Median household income: $30,059
> Poverty rate: 32.0%
> Population: 33,604

Between the two three-year periods starting in 2007 and 2010, home values in Nacogdoches increased by 29.8%, more than any U.S. city except for Clovis City, N.M. This may be a reflection of rising incomes in the region, which increased by 23.7%, from $24,310 a year to more than $30,000 a year between the 2007 to 2009 and 2010 to 2012 periods. Despite rising incomes, the area’s labor force did not grow considerably during the period. From 2007 to 2009, the percentage of people in the civilian labor force did not change meaningfully, while the area’s population rose by just 2.6%, from roughly 32,700 to 33,600. Nacogdoches County is home to large education and agriculture sectors. Stephen F. Austin State University is located in the city proper, where more than 33.3% of all employees in the city worked in education, health care and social assistance — more than most other cities in the United States.

1. New Bern, N.C.
> Pct. increase in income: 25.3%
> Median household income: $40,707
> Poverty rate: 22.8%
> Population: 30,074

Located less than two hours from Raleigh, New Bern’s median annual income rose from $32,476 in the three years ending in 2010 to $40,707 in the three years ending in 2012. No other city in America had such a considerable income growth. Additionally, during that time, the city’s civilian labor force participation rate jumped from 53% to nearly 62%. According to the New Bern Chamber of Commerce, the area’s “fast-growing population of highly skilled, active retirees has found employment in the small business and professional sectors.”

Visit 24/7 Wall St. to see the remaining cities where Americans are getting wealthy.

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Here Are the 15 Highest-Paying Companies in America

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A surprising No. 1

Median income for Americans was $34,750 in 2012. At some companies, however, the median is more than five times the national number. Based on figures provided by Glassdoor, 24/7 Wall St. examined the highest-paying companies in America.

The companies that pay their employees the most fall primarily into two industries: management consulting firms and tech companies. These companies employ graduates of elite schools who have skills that are in high demand and have high salary expectations to match.

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Consultancies can afford to pay high salaries. Generally, they are high-margin businesses, relying on a relatively small workforce to generate revenues. McKinsey & Co. and Boston Consulting Group, two consultancies that pay big salaries, continue to draw interest from business school students as they compete with some of the nation’s largest public companies to recruit top performers. According to Forbes, 2013 revenue at McKinsey & Co. was $7.8 billion, generated by only 17,000 employees.

For tech companies, maintaining the talent pool requires paying very high salaries to bring in software developers and engineers. According to a study by Glassdoor published last year, the six companies that paid engineers the most included Juniper Networks, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Google, Twitter and Apple — all of which were among the top 15 highest-paying companies overall.

Many of the highest-paying companies in America are also listed in Glassdoor’s 2014 Best Places to Work. Most notably, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google are all among the top 15 paying companies, as well as among the top 10 places to work based on employee reviews. Apple, Salesforce.com, Chevron, Riverbed Technology and eBay are also among the 30 best-paying companies and the top 50 places to work.

Many of the companies paying the highest salaries are headquartered in some of the wealthiest metro areas in the country. Boston, the fifth-wealthiest metro area by median income, is home to Boston Consulting Group. San Francisco, the nation’s fourth-wealthiest such area, is home to four of the top payers, including both design and engineering software-maker Autodesk and social networking company Twitter.

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But no metro area is home to more top-paying companies than the San Jose area, where Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo! and Juniper Networks are all headquartered. San Jose topped the nation with a median household income of $79,841 in 2012.

To identify the companies paying employees the most, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Glassdoor on median annual salaries by company, as well as job reviews and average salaries for specific positions. We also examined Glassdoor’s 2014 study on the Best Places to Work. In addition, we reviewed 2012 median salaries by occupation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

These are the highest-paying companies in America:

1. Apogee Medical
> Median salary: $220,000
> Number of employees: 750 (no. of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants)
> Sector: Manufacturing
> Headquartered: Phoenix, Ariz.

Apogee Medical pays its employees a median annual salary of $220,000 — the best in the country. It is likely that the salaries are high because the company is the largest physician-owned hospitalist group in the country. Hospitalists — physicians who provide comprehensive care to hospitalized patients — are Apogee’s highest-paid employees, making an average of $215,000 per year. According to the company’s website, Apogee employs more than 750 physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, all of which earn more than $100,000 a year. The company also offers a variety of opportunities to improve professionally, including its “Apogee University” program, which is available to all employees.

2. Boston Consulting Group
> Median salary: $143,750
> Number of employees: 6,200
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: Boston, Mass.

Top management consulting firms generally pay handsome salaries, and that is especially true at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which pays a median of $143,750 per year. This is well above the median annual salary $114,000 for a management consultant in Boston. The company, which employs nearly 5,000 consultants in 75 offices in 42 countries, consults top management at companies in virtually every sector. With nearly $4 billion in revenue in 2013, BCG is one of the richest management consultants in the world. In addition to a comparably lucrative salary, the firm offers employees a variety of benefits that most companies do not give, according to Workforce Magazine. BCG picks up the full tab on health care premiums for its employees, and it pays its consultants to engage in nonprofit work.

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3. Booz & Company
> Median salary: $140,000
> Number of employees: 3,000+
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: New York City, N.Y.

Booz & Company, a global management consulting firm, has been recognized around the world as one of the best firms both for its performance and its treatment of its employees. While the company did not fare well on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list this year, employees seem very pleased, citing numerous opportunities for advancement and competitive salaries on Glassdoor. While senior business consultants in New York City earn slightly more than $100,000 a year, they are paid some $140,000 a year at Booz & Co. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently completed a deal to purchase Booz & Co., although whether the business will continue as a standalone brand or adopt the PwC moniker has not yet been announced.

4. A.T. Kearney
> Median salary: $135,000
> Number of employees: 3,200
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: Chicago, Ill.

Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney was among the companies where the most business school graduates wanted to work, according to Fortune. One of the likely reasons for this is the pay — the median annual salary at the Chicago firm is $135,000. Comparably, the median annual salary for management consultants in Chicago is $110,365. Generous compensation, however, is not the company’s only draw. The company was also named as one of the Best Places for Diverse and Women Managers to Work by Diversity MBA magazine and Fortune’s “100 Top MBA Employers” in 2013.

MORE: States Where Children Are Struggling the Most to Read

5. Juniper Networks
> Median salary: $134,218
> Number of employees: 9,483
> Sector: Information technology
> Headquartered: Sunnyvale, CA

Unlike many of the best-paying companies in Silicon Valley, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) is not a consumer electronics, software or social media company. The networking equipment company sells its services and products — including its Junos network operating system — to carriers, cable companies and Internet service providers, among others. Employees working in similar companies may often be well compensated — the median pay for computer network architects in 2012 was $91,000. Juniper is certainly no slouch where pay is concerned. Software and systems engineers at Juniper were paid well more than $100,000 per year.

6. Visa Inc.
> Median salary: $130,000 (tied for 6th highest)
> Number of employees: 9,500
> Sector: Finance
> Headquartered: Foster City, Calif.

Based on the relatively low employee satisfaction score on Glassdoor, many employees find Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) a difficult place to work. However, the company makes up for it by paying higher salaries than its two closest competitors. The average salary for a number of positions at Visa is well over $100,000 a year. By contrast, neither of Visa’s chief rivals, American Express and MasterCard, was listed among the top-paying companies by Glassdoor. Visa also offers perks to employees beyond the typical benefits package. Those include free group exercise classes and benefits to workers who commute via public transportation, walking or bike riding.

7. LinkedIn
> Median salary: $130,000 (tied for 6th highest)
> Number of employees: 5045
> Sector: Information technology
> Headquartered: Mountain View, Calif.

LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) is the highest-paying social network to work for, with salaries that outpace those of both Twitter and Facebook. The company pays software engineers and data scientists salaries that can frequently exceed $150,000 per year. Also, like its competitors, LinkedIn ranks as one of the top companies to work for, according to Glassdoor. Employees noted in their reviews that “this company has an amazing culture!” and that the company “truly cares about its employees, providing opportunities for professional growth and career transformation.”

8. Autodesk
> Median salary: $128,000
> Number of employees: 7,300
> Sector: Business services
> Headquartered: San Francisco, Calif.

Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) is one of the highest-paying companies in the area of software engineering. The company, which specializes in cloud servicing software, is located in San Francisco and had revenue of $2.31 billion in 2013. While the median salary of a software engineer in the United States was $87,100 in 2012, the average salary of a software engineer at Autodesk is $106,959 a year. In addition to generous health and retirement benefits, the company offers employees six weeks paid sabbaticals for every four years of employment, as well as the week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day. One of its unusual benefits is to offer employees assistance in the costs of adopting a child.

MORE: States Where Children Are Struggling the Most to Read

9. Walmart eCommerce
> Median salary: $125,000 (tied for 9th highest)
> Number of employees: 2,000,000 (1,500 in Walmart eCommerce)
> Sector: Retail
> Headquartered: San Bruno, CA

While Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) has been frequently criticized for the low pay of its retail employees, the company is by no means afraid to pay for talent. The company continues to invest aggressively in its online business, with the hopes of catching up to online retail giant Amazon.com. To do so, the world’s largest retailer has had to pay for workers in software development, where the national median salary was $87,100 in 2012. This was far higher than the median earnings of the company’s retail sales workers of slightly less than $20,000 annually. And Walmart eCommerce doesn’t just pay these engineers the national median but far above it. At $125,000 per year, the pay of engineers at Walmart is comparable to pay at tech companies such as Google and Twitter.

10. Google
> Median salary: $125,000 (tied for 9th highest)
> Number of employees: 47,756
> Sector: Information technology
> Headquartered: Mountain View, Calif.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is one of the world’s most valuable companies as measured by market cap, and employees often reap the rewards. Software engineers, product managers and research scientists often earn salaries running well above $100,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. Google is well-known for not sparing any expense to recruit the best talent available. Employees receive a wide range of perks, including on-site medical care and its famous “20% time” — in which employees can work on whatever projects they want. An added perk for some employees is the opportunity to work with a number of the world’s leading thinkers, including chief economist Hal Varian and director of engineering Ray Kurzweil. It is hardly any wonder the company was ranked eighth on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work.

For the rest of the list, click here.

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10 States Where Income Inequality Has Soared

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A surprising number one

Although average real income in the United States increased by more than a third between 1979 and 2007, not all workers benefited equally. In each of the 50 states, income growth among the top 1% of earners rapidly outpaced that of the bottom 99%, according to a recent study.

In four states — Alaska, Michigan, Nevada and Wyoming — average income increased exclusively for the top 1% and declined for the bottom 99%. In another six states, the top 1% accounted for more than two-thirds of all income growth between 1979 and 2007, while the income of the bottom 99% grew at a much slower pace. Based on a report published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the most lopsided income growth.

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In many of the states with the most lopsided income growth, real average income rose little, if at all, between 1979 and 2007. While the average income of the bottom 99% rose 19% nationwide, it rose less than 5% in eight of these states.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Mark Price, coauthor of the study and a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, said that to many observers the issue of income inequality is a story about Wall Street’s growth. But “It’s not just a story of the financial markets in New York City,” Price said. “Over time, that [top] group in each state is accruing an increasingly larger share of the growth in income.”

In fact, as of 2012, the financial sector comprised a larger share of the economy than in the United States overall only in three of the 10 states with the most imbalanced income growth. Additionally, the financial sector contributed among the least in four of these states. The financial industry accounted for just 2.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in Wyoming in 2012, the lowest share of any state.

Another factor that does not appear related to uneven gains in income is economic growth. Price told 24/7 Wall St., “Looking at growth and GDP over time is a pretty blunt instrument,” and the relationship between unbalanced income gains and economic growth is weak.

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GDP growth was the largest in Nevada, Arizona and Florida between 1979 and 2007 — all among the 10 states with most imbalanced income growth. However, among the remaining seven states were also Alaska and Michigan, for example, where GDP growth lagged much of the rest of the nation.

State tax structures, too, may not play as large a role as many observers may believe. Price noted that, for most Americans, the decision of where to live was not tied to taxes. While three states with the most uneven income growth did not levy an income tax, three of the other 10 states — Hawaii, New York and Oregon — had exceptionally high top income tax rates.

However, Professor Richard Burkhauser, the Sarah Gibson Blanding Professor of Policy Analysis at Cornell University, added that taxes and transfer payments should not be ignored. In an email to 24/7 Wall St., Burkhauser, who has argued against the significance of income inequality said, “Government tax and transfer policies [can] dramatically redistribute income from those who have large amounts of taxable market income to those who do not.”

Still, according to Price, inequality in income growth “is a trend which should concern policy makers independent of the impact of taxes and transfers,” and that incomes — net of such considerations — have still disproportionately risen for the wealthiest 1%.

To determine the 10 states with the most skewed growth in incomes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed income growth figures from 1979 to 2007 from “The Increasingly Unequal States of America,” a study by Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price published by the EPI. We also reviewed figures from 2009 to 2011 from the same study. The authors derived average income growth from taxable income data, net of inflation. Additionally, we also reviewed state GDP figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and an assortment of figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.

These are the top 5 states where income inequality has soared:

1. Alaska
> Share of growth captured by the top 1%: All
> Real income growth 1979-2007: -10.3% (the least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -17.5% (the least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 118.6% (10th least)

The average real income for all workers in Alaska dropped by more than 10% between 1979 and 2007, making Alaska the only state where total income declined during that period. Despite this, the average income of Alaska’s top 1% of earners more than doubled, and incomes among the wealthy represented the only income growth in the state. Alaska’s average income per worker in the bottom 99% was $58,482 in 2011, second highest in the nation, trailing only Maryland. Due to the state’s high corporate tax collections, as well as no state sales or income taxes, Alaska has among the lowest tax burdens in the country. Alaska also benefits from its petroleum profits tax, which is paid by companies based on the value of the oil and natural gas they produce.

2. Nevada
> Share of growth captured by the top 1%: 218.5%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 8.6% (2nd least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -11.6% (2nd least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 164.0% (24th highest)

The average income in Nevada rose just 8.6% between 1979 and 2007, among the lowest increases in the nation. However, most of the state’s residents actually lost money during that time, as average real income dropped by 11.6% for the bottom 99% of earners. For the remaining top percentile of earners, average incomes rose by 164% between 1979 and 2007. As of 2007, the top 1% accounted for 28% of state residents’ total income, the fifth highest percentage in the United States. The gap between the top percentile and other earners has further increased in recent years. Incomes for the top 1% rose by 4% between 2009 and 2011, while incomes for the bottom 99% of earners slipped by a nation-leading 6.7%. Nevada has struggled with high unemployment in recent years, including an average unemployment rate of 11.1% in 2012, the highest in the nation that year.

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3. Wyoming
> Share of growth captured by the 1%: 102.3%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 31.5% (23rd least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -0.8% (3rd least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 354.3% (4th highest)

While Wyoming’s wealthiest residents have enjoyed the benefits of the state’s immense resources, the average income of the bottom 99% of workers in the state slid by 0.8% between 1979 and 2007. The state’s overall real income grew by 31.5% in the same period, however, due entirely to a 354% increase in the average income of the top-earning 1%. The income gap continued to grow between 2009 and 2011 as well. Average income of the bottom 99% of workers rose 6.9%, and that of the top 1% increased by 13.6%. Roughly 12.7% of the state’s labor force worked in the agriculture and mining industries in 2012, the most in the nation.

4. Michigan
> Share of growth captured by the 1%: 101.7%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 8.9% (3rd least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -0.2% (4th least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 100.0% (4th least)

Despite some good economic news for Michigan since the 2008 financial crisis, the state’s average real income growth between 1979 and 2007, as well as from 2009 to 2011, still trailed the nation as a whole. The wealthiest 1% enjoyed a 100% increase in average income between 1979 and 2007, while the average income of the bottom 99% dropped by 0.2% during those years. The income growth gap has remained wide in the years following the 2008 economic crisis. Between 2009 and 2011, the average income increase of the top 1% was 12.8%, while the average income increase of the bottom 99% was 0.2%. The good news for the bottom 99% of Michigan workers is that the U.S. auto industry has bounced back in terms of job creation and car sales.

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5. Arizona
> Share of growth captured by the 1%: 84.2%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 17.0% (8th least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: 3.0% (6th least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 157.8% (23rd least)

In 1979, the top 1% of earners accounted for just 9.1% of all income in Arizona. By 2007, the top 1% accounted for a full one-fifth of all income. Incomes of the top 1% of earners soared by more than 157% during that time, while incomes of the bottom 99% rose by just 3%. Since then, matters have not changed. Between 2009 and 2011, the average real income of the bottom 99% of earners fell by 1%, even as incomes of the top 99% rose by nearly 6%. While real income growth in the state lagged the national rate over both periods, the state’s economy was among the fastest growing in the U.S. between 1979 and 2007. One possible explanation for why GDP grew as incomes remained flat is that Arizona added more than 1 million non-farm jobs between 1990 and 2007.

For the rest of the list, click here.
TIME Food & Drink

9 Beers Americans No Longer Drink

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No love for this glug glug

Beer is not selling the way it used to. U.S. sales of the beverage declined in four of the past five years. Between 2007 and 2012, beer sales fell by 2.3%, or more than 4.8 million barrels.

This overall drop in beer sales is yet another challenge many of the once most popular U.S. brands have to overcome as they continue to lose market share. According to data provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, American sales of nine major brands, including the once top-selling Budweiser, declined by more than 25% over the past five years. Michelob Light’s U.S. sales declined by nearly 70%. The following are the nine beers Americans no longer drink.

According to Eric Shepard, executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, major brewers point to the lingering effects of the recession as the reason beer sales are down. While this is clearly the case, it is likely just one of the causes.

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Wine and spirits have done much better, especially as they added flavored brands. “The [beer] brewers have dabbled in that, and have had some success with, for example, Redd’s Apple Ale, but nowhere near the success that flavored vodkas and flavored whiskeys have had,” Shepard said. Flavored and craft beers have performed extremely well in a sector that is otherwise on the downswing.

This is also true for specialty beers with creative labels and slightly higher alcohol content, an attempt to appeal to the segment that is increasingly attracted to wines and liquors. Bud Platinum, which has higher alcohol content than major beer brands, sold 1.8 million cases when it was introduced in 2012, becoming the 19th best-selling mainstream beer in the country last year.

While this trend has hurt the beers that declined the most between 2007 and 2012, most of these brands have been losing ground for much longer than past five years. “The history of beer brands in the U.S. has generally been — and there are exceptions — once they start to decline, it’s very, very difficult to reverse it,” said Shepard. Breweries like Michelob and Old Milwaukee have been falling out of favor for decades.

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24/7 Wall St. identified the nine beers Americans no longer drink based on Beer Marketer’s Insights top beer brands with at least 600,000 barrels in sales in either 2007 or 2012, and with sales declines of 30% or more over the same period. According to Shepard, sales of less than 600,000 barrels can result in less reliable data. Amstel Light, which was identified as one of the beer brands with the biggest drops in our analysis last year, was not considered this year because it had less than 600,000 barrels in sales both years. We also excluded flavored malt beverages and craft beers brands from the analysis.

These are the nine beers Americans no longer drink.

1. Michelob Light
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 69.6%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch Inbev
> Barrels sold (2012): 350,000

The Michelob Light franchise “is a sinking brand at this point. There’s still a bunch of Michelobs, and Ultra is growing,” Shepard said. But the Michelob brand as a whole, he explained, “appears to be a sinking ship.” Introduced in 1978 by Anheuser Busch and styled after a European lager, Michelob Light has struggled recently more than any other top beer brand. Shipments declined by nearly 70% between 2007 and 2012, falling from more than 1,000,000 barrels to just 350,000.

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2. Budweiser Select
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 61.5%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch Inbev
> Barrels sold (2012): 625,000

Bud Select was introduced in 2005. The beer has slightly fewer calories than Bud Lite, which has 110 calories, and is marketed as a “light beer for people who love beer.” The brand has not sold well since its introduction, with a 1 million barrel decline in sales between 2007 and 2012, or about 62%. According to Shepard, “Budweiser tried a lot of different things to fix the ‘Bud’ brand. Bud Select was one of them. It didn’t work.”

3. Milwaukee’s Best Premium
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 58.5%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2012): 650,000

Milwaukee’s Best was first brewed in 1895 by the Gettelman Brewing Company. In 1961, the small brewery was acquired by Miller, which introduced Milwaukee’s Best nationally in 1984. MillerCoors has marketed the brand as affordable beer “brewed for a man’s taste.” No MillerCoors brand suffered more than Milwaukee’s Best between 2007 and 2012. Over that time, annual sales fell by 915,000 barrels. According to Shepard, over the past few years, sub-premium brewers raised their prices slightly in hopes of getting drinkers to switch to higher levels of beer. Competition for Milwaukee’s Best drinkers became more fierce as a result. Shepard added that before this happened, the brand had already been “fading anyway.”

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4. Miller Genuine Draft
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 56.4%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2012): 1,390,000

Owned by MillerCoors brewing company and introduced nationally in 1986, MGD is counterintuitively a bottled beer. Since it is not heat pasteurized — the process most bottled beers undergo — the brand is marketed as “the fresh taste of draft beer in a bottle.” Between 2007 and 2012, Miller Genuine Draft sales fell by more than 1.7 million barrels, the fourth largest decline out of all high-selling non-craft beer brands. U.S. market share fell from 1.5% to 0.7% in that time.

5. Old Milwaukee
> Sales loss (2007-2012): 54.0%
> Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
> Barrels sold (2012): 400,000

Old Milwaukee, which is currently owned by Pabst Blue Ribbon brewing company, has been brewed since 1849. The brand, including its light variety, won a number of gold medals awarded by the Great American Beer Festival. In 2011, on his own initiative, comedian and actor Will Ferrell starred in a number of Old Milwaukee commercials free of charge. However, gold medals and marketing boosts did little to improve the brand’s downward trend. Old Milwaukee sold 470,000 less barrels of beer in 2012 than it did in 2007, more than a 50% decline in sales.

For the rest of the list, click here.

Read more from 24/7 Wall Street:
10 U.S. Cities Where Violent Crime Is Soaring
The 10 Richest Presidents
America’s Fastest Growing (and Shrinking) Economies

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