CEOs of S&P 500 companies earned an average of $18.3 million last year, an increase of 18.2% and more than double the rate of US inflation, according to a new report from the AFL-CIO union. .
The union’s annual report on executive pay, which has become a benchmark for growing inequality in the United States, found that the ratio of CEO pay to workers’ earnings reached 324 to 1 the year last, compared to 299 to 1 in 2020 and 264 -to-1 in 2019.
The findings underscore the financial stress that many workers are currently experiencing due to inflation, which exceeds typical wage growth. Although average workers’ wages rose 4.7% last year, their real earnings after inflation fell 2.4%. By contrast, CEOs remained well ahead of last year’s 7.1% inflation rate.
“It’s another version of ‘more for them and less for us,'” AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond said in a statement on the results. “And this comes at a time when the standard of living for working people has gone down with every increase in the price of food, rent and gasoline.”
The report also pointed to “greed” as the cause of the rise in CEO salaries. Some experts blame corporate profit taking, especially as some companies raise prices even more than their underlying costs, of being a driver of inflation.
“During the pandemic, the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay jumped 23%,” Redmond said. “Instead of investing in their workforce by raising wages and controlling the prices of their goods and services, their solution is to reap record profits through rising prices and cause a recession that will put the unemployed workers.”
$296 million salary
The typical CEO supplements his salary with compensation in the form of stock options, restricted stock, and non-stock incentives. For example, the average CEO salary was about $1.2 million last year, but the typical restricted stock award was nearly $10 million.
Last year, the highest-paid CEO among S&P 500 companies was Expedia’s Peter Kern, whose salary was more than $296 million, according to AFL-CIO calculations. In second place is Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy with compensation of over $212 million.
Expedia and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The AFL-CIO named Amazon as having the highest gap between CEO and worker pay, at 6,474 to 1. While Jassy’s compensation was more than $212 million the last year, the typical Amazon worker earned less than $33,000 a year in 2021, the union says.
Amazon warehouses have been at the center of organizing efforts, with someand some losses. The huge gap between the pay of a typical Amazon worker and that of its CEO underscores why some of the e-commerce giant’s workers are organizing labor campaigns, the AFL-CIO said.
“But workers are starting to fight against the greed economy,” Redmond said. “From Bessemer, Alabama, to Staten Island, New York, Amazon workers are coming together to form unions and negotiate a fair return for their work.”