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CEO-to-worker pay ratio: 1982, 42-1; 1992, 201:1; 2002, 281:1; 2012, 354:1.
The AFL-CIO is out with its Executive Paywatch. Here's how some of the numbers break down:
  • In 2012, CEOs of S&P 500 Index companies averaged $12.3 million in total compensation, while rank-and-file worker wages averaged $34,645, for a ratio of 354 to one.
  • CEO pay fell five percent from 2011 to 2012, but that's mostly because of Apple CEO Tim Cook. The stock he got in 2011 vests over 10 years, but was counted all at once, skewing 2011 CEO pay data. If you take Cook out, average CEO pay increased five percent in 2012.
  • In Germany, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio is a relatively modest 147 to one. Workers make more—$40,223—and CEOs make less—$5,912,781. In Canada, it's 206 to one. In Sweden, Australia, Japan, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and other countries, the ratio is below 100 to one.

The comparisons with other nations and with our own past are a powerful reminder that how things are in this country right now is not how things have to be to have a healthy economy. The growing inequality in the United States that goes beyond a few CEOs isn't good for our economy or our politics. But when you consider that 354 to one ratio, you understand the power that's lined up against changing things for the better.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos, Dream Menders, Daily Kos, and Daily Kos Economics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They deserve it. (6+ / 0-)

    Laying people off is hard.

    Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

    by Bob Johnson on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:28:00 AM PDT

  •  Because nobody (5+ / 0-)

    would do those jobs for a mere $2 million.

    Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

    by Words In Action on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:35:18 AM PDT

  •  People are supposed (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, dadoodaman, vacantlook, JerryNA

    to be perfectly willing to work for $7.25, but CEO's cannot be expected to work for a million or two.

    Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

    by Words In Action on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:36:34 AM PDT

  •  Where can I get one of those Super CEO capes (5+ / 0-)

    with the big hidden pockets for all the bonus checks?    That dress for success thing really does matter.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:38:11 AM PDT

  •  What do you suggest? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dadoodaman, Gooserock

    Regulating the wage ceiling the way we have to regulate the wage floor?

    Won't that just open the door for black market CEO's?

    Can't we just enforce the laws we have?

    If we regulate executive salaries, only the criminals will make outrageous income!

    Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

    by Words In Action on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:39:33 AM PDT

    •  What We Were Doing Before 1982 Worked Great. (6+ / 0-)

      Managed our trade with tariffs, levied extremely large top marginal rates so that extreme incomes were neither offered nor sought, also higher investment and estate taxes.

      Oh also higher corporate taxes to encourage more hiring and to discourage the seeking of hyper profits at the expense of society and the long term good of businesses themselves.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:56:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Misleading, Closer to Several Thousand Times (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, JerryNA

    In 1982 that 42x figure was for an entirely domestic work force. Today that CEO heads an enterprise much of whose labor is in the 3rd world. That has to be figured into today's average if we are to compare to 1982 and earlier.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:54:58 AM PDT

  •  Anything less than 300-to-1 is Communism. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, JerryNA

    Democracy is a habit, not a circumstance.

    by Troubadour on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 10:41:37 AM PDT

  •  Whatever happened to the idea... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that you should pay your employees a good living wage so that they could afford to be your customers too? It's like the corporate elite wants to kill the goose that lays all their golden eggs.

    Seriously enough, though, I long for that brief time when it seemed like our corporate class had finally figured out that spreading prosperity around widely was the best plan and (shockingly enough) best for them in the long run even if it did mean a lower profit margin and less money in their own pockets in the short run. Companies like Ben & Jerry's (before they were gobbled up by Unilever) paved the way for this sort of thing, but now it's been largely forgotten. B&J had a corporate policy that no employees total compensation could exceed 7 times that of the lowest-paid employee. That meant the CEO would take home only 7 times what the janitors and office assistants did, no matter what.

    That's the kind of pay structure that we should expect of a company. Maybe we should find a way to bring them to their corporate senses, by law if necessary.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

    by Stwriley on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:53:49 AM PDT

    •  That idea was retired... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...when CEOs started dreaming about the lost days of serfdom and the Gilded Age.

    •  Being a little provincial aren't you? (0+ / 0-)

      todays corporate employee might be in Thailand....or Vietnam...and if they are raising that employees standard of living the same way an American workers standard of living was raised in the 1950s...what is wrong with that?

      Little ethnocentricic aren't we?

    •  I was going to mention Ben and Jerry's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      No matter that you did first. It's a good point. I think this was in the early 90s and I used to read business week, fortune, forbes, WSJ back then and the universal theme was B & J was having a hard time attracting CEOs because of the salary. It's not like there was a shortage of people who wanted the job. There was a shortage of the same kind of hack business people that function in a revolving corporate door of failure where the same people keep getting different companies this time. It's kind of like what the system used to be like in MLB and NFL managerial and head coaching vacancies: the same white guys who someone fired, would end up getting hired by someone else.

    •  Bottoms up! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      By the time the bottom falls completely out and there is beyond reparable damage, the CEOs will have made off with obscene amounts of money.

      Making money for these creeps used to be a marathon, now it's the shortest circular sprint to out billionaire each other. Damn the rest of "you people."

      Strange but not a stranger.

      by jnww on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 06:11:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  60:1 ratio was maximum (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That paragon of capitalism, J.P. Morgan, used the ratio of 60:1 (highest to lowest paid)  when evaluating whether a company was well run.

    Professor Michael Parenti urges people to consider that the elites don't want more--they want EVERYTHING.

    Now that we have this bad news is there something we can do about it?

  •  When Will The Greed End? n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:46:25 PM PDT

  •  I refuse to believe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that any executive is worth three or four hundred times what a minimum-wage worker is worth. Even if the executives are good at their jobs.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:47:04 PM PDT

  •  Its not wealth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Balto, Shockwave

    its the wealth gaps.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:53:24 PM PDT

  •  Conclusion: most CEOs are sociopaths (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    #1) Sociopaths are charming. Sociopaths have high charisma and tend to attract a following just because people want to be around them. They have a "glow" about them that attracts people who typically seek guidance or direction. They often appear to be sexy or have a strong sexual attraction. Not all sexy people are sociopaths, obviously, but watch out for over-the-top sexual appetites and weird fetishes.


    #3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions. This allows them to betray people, threaten people or harm people without giving it a second thought. They pursue any action that serves their own self interest even if it seriously harms others. This is why you will find many very "successful" sociopaths in high levels of government, in any nation.


    #5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and "win" at all costs. They hate to lose any argument or fight and will viciously defend their web of lies, even to the point of logical absurdity.

    #6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent, but they use their brainpower to deceive others rather than empower them. Their high IQs often makes them dangerous. This is why many of the best-known serial killers who successfully evaded law enforcement were sociopaths.

    #7) Sociopaths are incapable of love and are entirely self-serving. They may feign love or compassion in order to get what they want, but they don't actually FEEL love in the way that you or I do.


    #9) Sociopaths never apologize. They are never wrong. They never feel guilt. They can never apologize. Even if shown proof that they were wrong, they will refuse to apologize and instead go on the attack.

    #10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth merely because they say it! Charles Manson, the sociopathic murderer, is famous for saying, "I've never killed anyone! I don't need to kill anyone! I THINK it! I have it HERE! (Pointing to his temple.) I don't need to live in this physical realm..."

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:54:08 PM PDT

  •  It is no accident (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm, Shockwave, JerryNA

    ...that this trend took of during RR presidency. He viciously attacked unions, deregulated and encouraged off shoring. The demise of the middle class and the ascendancy of super wealthy ensued. The tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans was supposed to trickle down but never did. It will take  a lot to turn a 30 year trend around. Occupy Wall Street was the first murmur of a turnaround, which is why Bloomberg and others had to shut it down. But the message is out there and the genie is out of the bottle. Wealth and income inequality can not last, because eventually the little guys wise up, and demand change.

  •  If you could get away with this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would you use your company's cash to "create jobs," or would you just stuff it in your pockets?

    Why would you give money to someone else, when you could just keep it?

  •  The driver for this is Wall ST. (5+ / 0-)

    Back when I was consulting for a firm dealing with culture change in large organizations, I got to sit in on a lot of interesting discussions about the nature and direction of what had been stable, benefit  and dividend providing utilities.

    At that time (early 90's) the 'deal' as brokered by Goldman Sachs et. al. became the mark of corporate leadership.  Leadership began to think of themselves less as stewards in charge of shareholder wealth and more as big-time, quarterly-profit producing bizness gangstas...building their empires (urged on by big bankers) on the backs of workers and communities who relied on them for jobs, retirement security, and services.  

    This is the key transition point from leader to the cult of the CEO as kingpin dealmaker.  They are slaves to Wall St., and Wall St. has made slaves of many of us through our own greed and desire to get a piece of the corruption.  To the extent that we still play in that game, we contribute to the ongoing crisis or real leadership in the executive suite.  

    The answer is to decouple corporate results from stock price and  the crap-shoot that Wall St. has become.

    Finding Fred A Memoir of Discovery @

    by Timothy L Smith on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:22:46 PM PDT

  •  This is simply obscene. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Dirk McQuigley, JerryNA

    How much is worker productivity up over the last twenty years?  

    Life is good. Injustice? Not so much.

    by westyny on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:23:12 PM PDT

  •  Not just CEO's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, JerryNA

    But considering the entire executive tier of these companies - CFO, COO, etc ..., including highly compensated (six figure) board members (part time and often on multiple boards), the numbers are even more stark.

    In a capitalist democracy - every dollar is a "vote" ... spend wisely ...

    by RUNDOWN on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:27:33 PM PDT

  •  there has to be a breaking point (0+ / 0-)

    i mean, at some level people have to say enough is enough.

    the inequality in the US is beyond oligarchical proportions by now.

    Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

    by aguadito on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 01:46:19 AM PDT

  •  If we triple minimum wage per Sen. Warren, CEOs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would still earn more than 100 times the average worker. There is no profit small enough that a corporation won't pursue at the expense of its employees.

  •  Board Members... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One contributing factor to this inequality is the ability of "outside directors" who make reciprocal agreements.  

    Company A's CEO sits on the board of Company B and votes to give Company B's CEO a raise.  Then Company B's CEO, who sits on Company A's board, responds by convincing the other board members to give Company A's CEO a raise, because $10 million (or whatever the number) is now considered the going rate.  

    And the non-CEO board members also look to their own self-interests rather than to the concerns of the company.  So if Company C's board members vote to give themselves a raise and Company D's board members hear of it, they will vote to give themselves a similar raise.  

    Because many of these outside board members sit on a half-dozen or more different boards -- it would be enlightening to count the number of boards someone like Jill Kerr Conway or Doris Kearns Goodwin, for instance, sits on simultaneously -- they can make certain that each board raises its consulting fees.  

    Thus, for attending maybe eight board meetings a year for a particular company, much of each meeting spent in schmoozing over large on-the-house lunches, these board members pull in $250,000-$500,000 from the company.  Multiply those "earnings" by the number of boards they sit on, say five, and they "earn" themselves quite a comfortable annual income, even though they contribute less to any of these individual companies than the janitors who work there 40 hours a week, 50 days a year.

    But these Very Serious People -- a/k/a Professional Grifters -- have convinced one another that they are providing something of value, and they continue to get away with it.  All they are required to do is to vote for more generous compensation packages for the CEOs and for one another, and they will be providing a "service" to the complicit companies.    

  •  And when you look at (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what is actually done for that money (I can't say to earn that money), it feels like time t invest in torches and pitchforks.

    Who are some of the CEO's making these outrageous amounts, and what have they done to create wealth?

    Carly Fiorina.
    Meg Whitman.
    Donald Trump.
    Rupert Murdoch.
    Lloyd Blankfein.


    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 09:16:43 AM PDT

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