In 2019, CEOs of S&P 500 companies received, on average, $14.8 million in total compensation.
The average S&P 500 company CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 264-to-1.
The imbalance in our economy between the pay of CEOs and working people continues to be a problem.
CEO Pay Matters
The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is important. A higher pay ratio could be a sign that companies suffer from a winner-take-all philosophy where executives reap the lion’s share of compensation. A lower pay ratio could indicate the companies that are dedicated to creating high-wage jobs and investing in their employees for the company’s long-term health.
More for them, less for us
CEO Pay by State
Too many working people across the country are struggling to afford the basics, much less save for college or retirement. Some states serve as stark examples of the incredible gap between CEOs and the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.
This map shows how the CEO pay of companies headquartered in each state compares to the pay of the average employee in the state.
The 1,000-to-1 Club—High Pay Ratio Companies That Furloughed Workers
In 2020, 20 CEOs furloughed a substantial portion of their workforces due to COVID-19 while having made more than 1,000 times their median employee’s compensation in 2019. Altogether, the total compensation of these twenty 1,000-to-1 Club CEOs could have supported more than 30,000 jobs at their companies’ median employee level of compensation.
Many of these 1,000-to-1 Club CEOs head consumer retail companies where worker wages are low and part-time jobs are common. With shopping malls closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of retail workers were furloughed by their employers. In April 2020, the retail worker unemployment rate exceeded 17% in the United States.
1,000-to-1 Club Pay Ratio Companies That Furloughed Workers in 2020
|Company||CEO Pay||Median Employee Pay||Pay Ratio|
|Abercrombie & Fitch Co.||$8,389,027||$1,954||4,293:1|
|Burlington Stores Inc.||$35,094,754||$11,583||3,030:1|
|The TJX Companies Inc.||$19,083,676||$12,006||1,590:1|
|The Gap Inc.||$9,622,666||$6,177||1,558:1|
|G-III Apparel Group Ltd.||$16,597,492||$10,833||1,532:1|
|Dick's Sporting Goods Inc.||$15,048,162||$10,120||1,487:1|
|SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.||$11,836,601||$9,180||1,289:1|
|The Children's Place Inc.||$12,208,109||$9,671||1,262:1|
|Barnes & Noble Education Inc.||$4,496,072||$3,728||1,206:1|
|WW International Inc.||$7,295,423||$6,214||1,174:1|
|AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.||$9,671,799||$8,840||1,094:1|
|Ross Stores Inc.||$12,024,336||$11,356||1,059:1|
|Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.||$17,808,364||$16,925||1,052:1|
|Foot Locker Inc.||$9,229,354||$9,112||1,013:1|
|American Eagle Outfitters Inc.||$8,086,131||$8,058||1,003:1|
Increased Stock Awards Offset Symbolic Salary Cuts
Many CEOs voluntarily took salary cuts when furloughing workers due to COVID-19. For example, when announcing workforce furloughs related to COVID-19 on April 6, 2020, Abercrombie & Fitch also cut its senior executives’ salaries between 10% and 33%. However, as shown in the chart below, base salary made up less than 8% of the average S&P 500 company CEO’s total compensation in 2019.
But many of these CEOs also received additional awards of restricted stock and stock options. Just two weeks before the announcing the furloughs and executive salary cuts, Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO received an award of 240,701 shares of restricted stock, nearly three times the amount that had been granted the previous year. Often, these equity awards were granted in early 2020 when stock prices were low, providing a windfall for CEOs as the stock market recovered.
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Build Back Better with Unions
Outdated labor laws have hampered our fundamental right to join together and negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act will empower America’s workers and make our economy work for working people.