Gap between CEO pay and worker pay continued to widen during pandemic, new survey finds


Top line

Even as the coronavirus pandemic has forced pay cuts, time off and layoffs across the United States, a new survey of top-paid CEOs of state-owned companies conducted by Equilar on behalf of the New York Times found that CEO compensation in 2020 continued to increase relative to employee compensation.


Of the 200 companies with the largest CEO compensation packages included in the survey, 68% had larger gaps between CEO compensation and worker compensation in 2020 than before the pandemic.

CEO compensation increased 14.1% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the New York Times, while the median wage of workers increased by 1.9% over the same period.

the New York Times attributes the increase in executive pay to ‘pay-for-performance’ corporate structures, which reward CEOs when a company’s shares rise (the S&P 500 climbed 16.3% in 2020), as well as ” generous share awards and grants that CEOs can receive even if their company is not yet performing well in the public market.

Highest-paid CEO in New York Timeswas Alexander Karp of data company Palantir, which won $ 1.1 billion last year.

Tony Xu of Doordash was ranked second with $ 414 million in compensation and Eric Wu of OpenDoor was ranked third with $ 370 million in compensation.

Of the 13 female CEOs on the list, the highest-paid was Dr. Lisa Su of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, who received $ 40 million in 2020.

Large number

8. This is the number of frames on the New York TimesThe list of 200 earned more than $ 100 million in 2020, down from just one in 2019.


This spring, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) And other lawmakers including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Introduced legislation that would impose tax penalties on large companies that pay their CEOs at least 50 times the salary of a median worker. “Business executives have filled their pockets with big paychecks and disproportionate allowances, while American workers, who have helped generate record profits for companies, have barely seen their wages budge,” said Warren in a statement.

Key context

Amid an ongoing national debate over whether unprecedented fiscal stimulus spending and generous additional unemployment benefits are fueling inflation and hurting economic recovery, there is evidence that some workers are actually seeing downsides. salary gains this year. Across the country, many companies are increasing wages to meet a huge increase in demand for workers as the economy reopens. According to data released last week by the Ministry of Labor, the average hourly wage of employees in the private non-farm sector rose 21 cents between March and April and 15 cents between April and May. “Data from the past 2 months suggests that the growing demand for labor associated with the recovery from the pandemic may have put upward pressure on wages,” the Labor Ministry report reads, but the agency also notes that earnings vary considerably from sector to sector.

Further reading

Meager rewards for workers, exceptionally rich compensation for CEOs (New York Times)

Richest Americans, including Bezos, Musk and Buffett, paid federal income taxes equivalent to just 3.4% of the $ 401 billion in new wealth, Bombshell report says (TBEN)

The United States created 559,000 jobs in May, less than experts expected, but better than grim data in April (TBEN)

Labor shortage will drive wages up, Bank Of America says (TBEN)


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