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Target just gave employees a raise — here's what 19 other major retailers pay

A shopper approaches the Target store in Mount Kisco, New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
A shopper approaches the Target store in Mount Kisco, New York.

The approaching holiday season means more shopping, and as a result, more jobs in retail.

For some retail employees, it will also mean higher wages. Target announced today that it would raise its minimum wage above $10 beginning in October, eventually reaching $11 per hour for all U.S. stores. The retailer has already promised to add 100,000 jobs in the coming months and has committed to raising minimum wage to $15 by 2020.

Though many of these jobs may be temporary, they provide experience as well as a source of income, and knowing how major stores compare in terms of hourly pay could help you if you're in the market for a job.

Using Fortune's list of the 20 retailers with the greatest number of employees in the U.S., CNBC Make It looked at average hourly wages for the position of "sales associate" — a common consumer-facing, non-managerial role — at each company. Wages were determined using data submitted by employees to jobs and salary platform Glassdoor. Each company on the list was also contacted to provide information or comment.

Here's how the country's 20 biggest retail employers rank in terms of pay:

20. Dollar General

A Dollar General store in Creve Coeur, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Dollar General store in Creve Coeur, Illinois.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $7.87

Number of employees: 121,000

19. Dollar Tree

A Dollar Tree store location.
Vince Talotta | Getty Images
A Dollar Tree store location.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $8.17 to $8.26

Number of employees: 116,050

After five months, some Dollar Tree employees can earn $9 per hour, The Wall Street Journal reports.

18. Sears Holdings

A Sears store in Manchester, N.H.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
A Sears store in Manchester, N.H.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $8.54

Number of employees: 140,000

17. Ross Stores

Pedestrians pass in front of a Ross Stores location in San Francisco.
Noah Berger | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of a Ross Stores location in San Francisco.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $8.57

Number of employees: 78,600

Business Insider reports that Ross Stores leadership announced in 2015 it would raise starting wages to $9.

16. Kohl's

Shoppers at a Kohl's store in Jersey City, NJ.
Nicole O'Hara | CNBC
Shoppers at a Kohl's store in Jersey City, NJ.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $8.71

Number of employees: 85,000

15. TJX (parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshall's)

A shopper carries bags outside a HomeGoods store in Peoria, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A shopper carries bags outside a HomeGoods store in Peoria, Illinois.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $8.75, as determined by averaging Glassdoor data for TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. (Too few Glassdoor salary reports were available to determine wages for Sierra Trading Post.)

Number of employees: 235,000

A company representative tells CNBC Make It that all sales associates now make a starting wage of at least $9 per hour, and at least $10 per hour after six months.

14. Toys "R" Us

Shoppers pay for items at a Toys 'R' Us store in New York City.
Getty Images
Shoppers pay for items at a Toys 'R' Us store in New York City.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.00

Number of employees: 64,000

13. J.C. Penney

Employees assist customers at a J.C. Penney store at the Gateway Shopping Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Employees assist customers at a J.C. Penney store at the Gateway Shopping Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.07

Number of employees: 106,000

12. AutoZone

An employee, right, helps a customer change a license plate bulb outside an AutoZone store in Princeton, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee, right, helps a customer change a license plate bulb outside an AutoZone store in Princeton, Illinois.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.15

Number of employees: 66,780

11. Staples

Getty Images

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.20

Number of employees: 61,503

10. Macy's

Shoppers pay for items at a Macy's store in New York.
Peter Foley | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shoppers pay for items at a Macy's store in New York.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.40

Number of employees: 148,300

9. Wal-Mart

A Walmart employee checks prices on merchandise before the opening of a new store in Washington.
Bill O'Leary | The Washington Post | Getty Images
A Walmart employee checks prices on merchandise before the opening of a new store in Washington.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.41

Number of employees: 2,300,000

The Wall Street Journal reports that after three months, workers can earn $10 per hour.

8. Target

Employee Justin Jones calls for another TV as the big screen TV's sell fast at a Target store in Washington, Nov. 28, 2013.
Michael S. Williamson | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Employee Justin Jones calls for another TV as the big screen TV's sell fast at a Target store in Washington, Nov. 28, 2013.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.45

Number of employees: 323,000

Target will begin raising its base hourly wage in October, eventually reaching $11 per hour nationwide.

7. Bed Bath & Beyond

74127741
Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $9.85

Number of employees: 62,000

6. Gap Inc. (parent company) 

A GAP employee works in a San Francisco store.
Getty Images
A GAP employee works in a San Francisco store.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $10.36, as determined by averaging Glassdoor data for average sales associate wages across all of Gap Inc.'s major brands: Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap, Athleta and Intermix.

Number of employees: 135,000

5. Best Buy

A customer gets help from an employee at a Best Buy store in San Francisco.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer gets help from an employee at a Best Buy store in San Francisco.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $10.58

Number of employees: 125,000

4. Home Depot

A cashier counts a customers money as she works the register inside a Home Depot in Somerville, Massachusetts.
JB Reed | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $11.33

Number of employees: 406,000

3. Lowe's

Eddie Zelaya helps Carmen Ledesma as she shops for a BBQ grill at the Lowe's store on March 1, 2017 in Hialeah, Florida.
Getty Images
Eddie Zelaya helps Carmen Ledesma as she shops for a BBQ grill at the Lowe's store on March 1, 2017 in Hialeah, Florida.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $11.70

Number of employees: 240,000

2. Nordstrom

An employee arranges cosmetic products in a container in a Nordstrom Inc. store
Ben Nelms | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee arranges cosmetic products in a container in a Nordstrom Inc. store

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $11.71

Number of employees: 72,500

1. Costco

A bakery employee distributes baked goods onto a display rack inside a Costco Wholesale store in Nashville, Tennessee.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A bakery employee distributes baked goods onto a display rack inside a Costco Wholesale store in Nashville, Tennessee.

Average hourly wage for sales associates: $12.92

Number of employees: 172,000

A Costco representative tells CNBC Make It that the company's sales assistant positions have a current starting wage of $13 per hour, with the opportunity for "regular increases based on hours worked."

What explains the differences in wages? 

There are many who argue that big retailers could afford to increase wages. Some retail employees say they struggle to make ends meet and many have joined the "Fight for 15" protests, which call for a minimum wage of $15 per hour and have gained traction in many major cities.

Jiyoung Hwang, assistant professor of marketing at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Bryan School of Business and Economics, says there are a few factors at play.

Chief among them are the minimum wage in each state, which she says retailers often use a benchmark, the level of skill each employee has and the company's emphasis on corporate social responsibility (CSR.)

"Costco is well-known for its CSR while Wal-Mart is quite lower in that reputation," Hwang says.

Pressure to offer customers low prices, long operating hours and the importance of competing with other retailers also play a big role, she adds.

In addition, company sales, the cost of living in an area and a worker's responsibilities contribute to wage decisions, according to Ana Serafin Smith, senior director of media relations at the National Retail Federation (NRF). Still, Smith says that those who earn minimum wage from major retailers may not have to do so for long.

"A majority of those hired in an entry-level position," Smith says, citing NRF research, "reported earning a promotion within a year of employment."

Correction: This story has been updated to correct average hourly wage data for Gap Inc., Target, TJX, Ross and Costco, as reported by Glassdoor. The story also corrected that the current starting wage for sales associates at TJX stores is at least $9 per hour, rising to at least $10 after six months.

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