The Stand

Executive PayWatch: Rich CEOs get richer, unlike the rest of us

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2019) — In 2018, CEOs of S&P 500 companies made, on average, $14.5 million, a $500,000 increase from the previous year, according to the latest AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch report released Tuesday. Compare that to the average rank-and-file worker who received barely more than a $1,000 raise, bringing total take-home pay in 2018 to $39,888.

“The average CEO earns 287 times what an average employee earns,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “This disparity represents a fundamental problem with our economy: Productivity and corporate profits are through the roof, but wages for working people are flat — and staying flat.”

In Washington state, T-Mobile CEO John Legere topped the list of local executives’ pay at $66,538,206 in 2018, which is 1,116 times the Bellevue-based company’s median employee pay. The state’s other highest-paid CEOs in 2018, according to the AFL-CIO report, were Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ($25,843,263), Seattle Genetics CEO Clay Siegall ($18,107,037), and Funko CEO Brian Mariotti ($16,395,614), who made 411 times what the median employee earned at the Everett-based toy pop culture consumer products company.

What’s worse, as Shuler pointed out, while rich executives rake it in, these corporations and their executives are paying less and less in taxes to support the public services and infrastructure that their companies rely upon to make their profits.

“The recent tax cut only made things worse by widening the gap between the 1% and the rest of us,” Shuler said. “The corporate income tax rate was reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent, and 60 of the largest U.S. companies paid nothing in federal income taxes last year — despite being profitable. In other words, Amazon users pay more for a Prime membership than Amazon paid in federal income taxes last year.”

Here are some key points from the Executive Paywatch report:

$14.5 Million: S&P 500 CEOs’ average 2018 compensation.

287:1: The average S&P 500 CEO-to-worker pay ratio.

$5.2 Million: Increase in the average S&P 500 CEO’s pay over the past 10 years, a raise of more than half a million dollars annually.

$7,858: Increase in the average U.S. rank-and-file worker’s pay over the past 10 years, a raise of less than $800 per year annually.

$93 Billion: Decrease in corporate income tax collections following the passage of the 2017 GOP tax cut, a 31% drop for FY 2018.

$0: Federal income taxes paid by 60 of the largest U.S. companies in 2018 despite being profitable. This list includes corporations like Amazon, Activision Blizzard and Delta Airlines.

You can view the full report, including state-by-state data, here.

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