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Walmart vs. Costco: How Do They Really Compare?

By Claire Gordon

Every villain needs a hero, and Walmart and Costco have become the dark lord and white knight of low-budget retail. In recent months, Walmart has been criticized for allegedly underpaying and mistreating its employees, while Costco has been lauded as a kind of corporate Dumbledore, nurturing its workers, and fighting to make the world a kinder and more affordable place.

So how do the country's two biggest retailers really fare head-to-head? Check out the breakdown below.

Average Cashier Salary

Walmart: $8.53 [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Glassdoor</a>]

Costco: $15.60 [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Glassdoor</a>]

Average Pay For Low-Level Managerial Position

Walmart: $44,774 [Glassdoor, assistant store manager]

Costco: $53,956 [Glassdoor, supervisor]

Number Of Employees Receiving Health Insurance Coverage

Walmart: "more than half" of employees [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Businessweek</a>]

Costco: 88% of employees [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Businessweek</a>]

Turnover Rate

Walmart: 37% [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">self-reported</a>]

Costco: 24% [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">InvestorPlace</a>]

Position On The Minimum Wage

Walmart: Supported raising the federal minimum wage in 2006, but has remained mum in the recent debate. [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">NBC News</a>]

Costco: Supports raising the federal minimum wage to over $10-an-hour. CEO Craig Jelinek wrote a letter urging Congress to do so. [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">The Huffington Post</a>]

Percent Of Workforce That Is Unionized

Walmart: 0 [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Reuters</a>]

Costco: 15 [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Businessweek</a>]

Opportunity For Advancement:

Walmart: "Nearly three-quarters of our store management teams started out in hourly positions." [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">The Huffington Post</a>]

Costco: 70% of warehouse managers allegedly started as cart-pushers and cashiers. On principle, the retailer doesn't hire business school graduates, and instead sponsors its lower-level employees through graduate school. [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Businessweek</a>]

CEO Compensation (2012)

Walmart: $19.3 million ($1.3 million salary, $4.4 million bonus, $13.6 million in stock grants) [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Businessweek</a>]

Costco: $4.9 million ($650,000 salary, $200,000 bonus, around $4 million in stock options) [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Businessweek</a>]

Most Recent Quarterly Year Over Year Earnings

Walmart: Up 1.1% [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">Wall Street Journal</a>]

Costco: Up 19% [<a href="" target="blank" rel="nofollow">NBC News</a>]

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