Low-Wage American TaxPayers Inflate CEO Pay Through Stock Buybacks

A tight labor market created a rare moment of leverage for low-wage workers last year. But Corporate America Tok No Great Leap Forward on Pay Equity.

A New Institute for Policy Studies Report, Executive Excess 2022reveals how low-wage corporations have continued to pump up CEO pay during the pandemic while workers are struggling with rising costs.

The report zeroes in on compensation trends at the 300 publicly held US corporations that reported the lowest median worker wages in 2020. At over a third of these firms—106 in all—median worker pay either fell or failed to rise above the 4.7 percent average US inflation rate in 2021.

By contrast, CEO pay at these same 300 low-wage firms soared 31 percent to an average of $10.6 million. This stunning increase drove the average gap between CEO and median worker pay at these companies to 670-to-1, up from 604-to-1 in 2020. At 49 of the 300 firms, pay ratios topped 1,000-to-1.

Amazon’s new CEO, Andy Jassy, ​​raked in $212.7 million last year, making him the highest-paid CEO in our corporate low-wage sample. Jassy’s pay amounts to 6,474 times the $32,855 take-home of Amazon’s typical worker.

Of the 106 companies in our sample where median worker pay did not keep pace with inflation, 67 blew a combined total of $ 43.7 Billion on Stock Buybacks. This Financial Maneuver Inflates Executive Stock-Based Pay and Drains Capital From Wormer Raises, R&D, and Other Productivity Boosting Investments.

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