According to a new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch report released this week, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $12.5 million per year in 2015 – 335 times more than an average worker, who earned $36,900.
While workers' wages have stagnated over the last few decades, CEO pay has swelled to obscene levels. In 1980, CEOs earned 42 times, and in 1990, CEOs earned 107 times what the average worker did – but this report shows that the gap is continuing to grow.
How can these corporations afford to pay their CEOs so much? One way is through our tax dollars. Corporations are paying less and less income tax, which means the tax burden is being shifted to workers while companies rack up profits and hike executive pay. According to the AFL-CIO's analysis, federal revenue from corporate income tax receipts has dropped to half of what it was in the 1950s.
Companies often complain that their tax rates are too high, but behind the corporate spin, our nation's effective tax rate is actually lower than many other developed countries. And despite hefty profits, employers regularly get away with paying employees poverty wages while some workers have to turn to public assistance just to put food on the table. As a result, our taxpayer money subsidizes these exploitative labor practices while CEOs take home massive salaries.
Worse still, many of these highly-paid CEOs are being paid handsomely as a reward for cost-cutting, often in the form of shipping jobs overseas. As a result, our economy is rapidly becoming unbalanced for everyday workers.
Even as nearly 40,000 Verizon workers strike for a fair contract, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam raked in $18.3 million in 2015 – 498 times more than the average pay of a Verizon worker. Verizon has seen record profits of $39 billion over three years, but still continues to ship jobs overseas, force workers away from their families for months at a time, and undercut middle class jobs.
At other CWA employers: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson made 682 times more than the average worker, while Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, made a staggering 983 times more.