Working People’s Real Wages Fall While CEO Pay Soars
In 2021, corporate CEOs were quick to blame worker wages for causing inflation. But workers’ real wages actually fell 2.4% in 2021 after adjusting for inflation.
Working people experienced a pay cut with every price increase while U.S. companies enjoyed record profits and CEO pay increased at an even faster rate.
Greedflation by the Numbers
In 2021, CEOs of S&P 500 companies received, on average, $18.3 million in total compensation. CEO pay rose 18.2%, faster than the U.S. inflation rate of 7.1%.
In contrast, U.S. workers’ wages fell behind inflation, with worker wages rising only 4.7% in 2021. The average S&P 500 company’s CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 324-to-1.
Runaway CEO pay is a symptom of greedflation — when companies increase prices to boost corporate profits and create windfall payouts for corporate CEOs.
Amazon Delivers the Highest CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratio in the S&P 500
In 2021, Amazon’s new CEO Andy Jassy received $212.7 million in total compensation, giving Amazon the highest CEO-to-worker pay ratio out of all S&P 500 Index companies.
Amazon’s CEO Total Compensation: $212,701,169
Amazon’s Median Worker Pay: $32,855
Amazon’s CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratio: 6,474-to-1
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
2021 Average CEO Pay at S&P 500 Index Companies
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 hardworking people who make their companies profitable.
This map shows how the CEO pay at companies headquartered in each state compares to the pay of the average employee in the state.
CEO Pay by Industry at S&P 500 Index Companies
CEO pay rose fastest in the consumer discretionary sector in 2021, up 79% compared to the previous year. The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is also the highest in the consumer discretionary sector that includes retail companies like Amazon, where the median worker made only $32,855 in 2021.
|Industry||Average CEO Pay||Average Pay Ratio|
Join Together. Fight Back.
The Workers First Agenda
Big corporations are reaping record profits from rising prices while workers’ wages are falling further behind inflation. Instead of trying to put people out of work by causing a recession, we need to tackle inflation with a Workers First Agenda to raise wages and help reduce costs for working families. Add your support for Building a Better America today.