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Typical American Worker Would Need 244 Years To Match CEO’s Annual Salary

Annie-Rose Strasser
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Friday 25 May 2012
“Chief Executive Officers are being paid at the highest-ever rate since the AP started tracking the figure in 2006, according to a new report from the news organization.”
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The average CEO made $9.6 million in 2011, even as workers’ wages remained stagnant and unemployment hovered nationally around 8 percent. Chief Executive Officers are being paid at the highest-ever rate since the AP started tracking the figure in 2006, according to a new report from the news organization.

But while CEOs may be reaping the rewards of higher profits and a growing stock market, very little of that achievement spreads as far as the average worker — or even the company’s stockholders:

Profit at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index rose 16 percent last year, remarkable in an economy that grew more slowly than expected.

CEOs managed to sell more, and squeeze more profit from each sale, despite problems ranging from a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating to an economic slowdown in China and Europe’s neverending debt crisis.

Still, there wasn’t much immediate benefit for the shareholders. The S&P 500 ended the year unchanged from where it started. Including dividends, the index returned a slender 2 percent.

As the AP noted, “the typical American worker would have to labor for 244 years to make what the typical boss of a big public company makes in one.”

Growing CEO pay is contributing to the larger trend of increasing income inequality — CEO pay increased 127 times faster than the average worker pay over the last 30 years, and the average Fortune 500 CEO made 380 times what the average worker did last year. Fortune 500 companiesmade a record $824 billion in 2011.

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ABOUT Annie-Rose Strasser

Annie-Rose Strasser is a Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress. Before joining American Progress, she worked for the community organizing non-profit Center for Community Change as a new media specialist. Previously, Annie-Rose served as a press assistant for Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Annie-Rose holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the George Washington University.

Time for the workers to walk

Time for the workers to walk out on the greedy bastards, they NEED us.......stop breaking down your body for someone's greed, it's not worth it. I know, I live this fact everyday. They really don't care about us, don't ruin your life for scraps.....

To Eureeky re: Joe Specht's

To Eureeky re: Joe Specht's question:
Couldn't have said it better myself. I am not a "bloated unionized public employee". I'm self-employed, but have done considerable research into public sector employment. It's sad so many like Joe are so completely uninformed, and keep vomitting up the pablum their politicos feed them.
Here's some education, Joe: The average public employee pension in the U.S. is $19,000 per year. That includes the higher pensions of administrators and the like, many of whom got their higher paying jobs as political favors. Unlike CEO's a regular public employee has to work 30 years for that $19,000, or be 60 yrs. old with 10yrs. on the job. But in that case the pension will be reduced. $19,000 by the waY, is just $4500 over the Federal Poverty Level for a single person. All of this, of course, depends on IF you get a pension. The facts are that most public employees DON"T GET A PENSION. States began over a decade ago switching from pensions to 401(k)'s. With the recent Wall Street caused recession many of those folks saw their retirement savings vanish. Here in Michigan NO PUBLIC EMPLOYEE HIRED SINCE 1997 GETS A PENSION.
Further, 20 years ago there were 80,000 public employees in Michigan and today there are fewer than 50,000 which is a significant drop in state's expense and will continue to lower future retiree expenses. The current employees are, however, having to do the work of the 30,000 who've been cut. This is not unique to Michigan. In addition 37 of the 50 states failed over the past 30yrs. to fund employee pension trusts as required by State"s constitutions and federal law. And that was when times were good. Yes, some public employees have good benefits. But they pay for them. Maybe not as much as I do as a self employed person, but when public sectors jobs are compared to private sector jobs oranges for oranges , i.e. educational requirements, experience, continuing ed, any number of things, public employees get paid less than their private sector counterparts.
Fact is that crap flung on the airwaves about public employees breaking the bank and living high on the hog everafter is just that. Please find yourself some toilet paper.

To Smitty and Eureeky, first

To Smitty and Eureeky, first off, I do not hear any media hype because I never listen to it. I form my own opinions from information that I see.

I perhaps should have limited my comments to the five Illinois pension systems, one of which is the grammar and high school teachers retirement system. In this system, most teachers retire between the ages of 52 and 55, and either start their retirement by making 100% of their most recent salary or quickly grow into such a payout with cost of living adjustments.

If you have not heard bits and pieces of how bad off the Illinois pension plans are, just give it a few years.

As for myself and almost EVERYONE I know in the private sector, NONE of us get pensions. Your 2% is certainly better than our 0%. The only retirement funds we get (other than the questionable social security benefits you mentioned) are what we contribute to our own 401Ks. But let's not quibble over that. And, let's admit that none of us really know how bad off the federal pension system is. Are you aware that some of the richest counties in the country surround Washington D.C? And those populations likelky consist of people still working. I can't wait to see the federal pensions they have all been promised.

The real problem I have with public pensions is that they provide government bureaucrats and politicans with another opportunity for vote-buying, political favoring, and massive miscalculations that we the people have to ultimately pay for. Good for Michigan - no public employee should get a pension. If for no reason other than the fact that political bureacrats are incapable of managing it honestly.

Joe Specht - FreeMarket Underdog

To answer Joe Specht's

To answer Joe Specht's question:

I am what you term, "an average, unionized, public-sector employee", and I will trade you paychecks and pensions any day!

I am a Systems Technician for a California city in the Central Valley. Don't be suckered into that BS media hype that ALL government workers will cut a fat hog when they retire. It is simply untrue, as is everything else the mainstream media feeds us. Critical here, is the need to distinguish between public sector WORKERS and UPPER MANAGEMENT. The cases that the media typically present are extreme and involve folks who are at the highest levels of their respective organizations (Directors and above). Yeah, these folks will be doing alright when they cash it in, but the rank and file employees will probably be doing worse than you will be.

Here's what my "bloated" salary and benefits package shakes out to:

Base Wage = $26.93/hr. (This is significantly lower than what my private-sector counterparts currently make for doing the same job in my local area.)

When I retire in 8 years, I will get 2% of my highest wage. That will get me a whopping $18,000 a year to live on, plus whatever crumbs Social Security (if it even still exists) throws my way. Wow! Are you jealous yet? And the one other pension I USED to have from my 20+ year private-sector Airline career has gone up in smoke ever since they handed it over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. I'll be lucky if I see enough each month for beer money from that one.

Now, as for health benefits, my wife pays $558.00 per month for our lousy Kaiser medical insurance. I can't afford the medical premiums where I work. I will bet that you have a superior, or at least equal benefit package going for yourself where you work, and I have had WAY better benefit packages at a couple of my previous private sector jobs.

Yeah, I get paid sick days and vacation days, but so does almost anybody else with a full-time job. I've been in this position for over 5 years now and I am accruing 2.8 weeks of vacation leave per year, so nothing special or lucrative there. At my last private sector job, I had 9 paid weeks of vacation a year, and that was separate from my sick time bank.

If you got rid of all us sack-dragging government workers, who would fix your streets, treat your sewage waste, provide you with fresh water from a tap, trim trees threatening structures and power lines, keep the storm drains clear, put out fires, keep sewer lines flowing and repaired, round up criminals, provide for emergency response, etc. These are ALL just some of the essential services, REQUIRED to maintain the way of life and standard of living we have all come to enjoy.

It requires human labor to do these jobs. If people weren't there to perform this work, your way of life would literally crumble around your ears within 60 days. Do you think you can get anyone to do these jobs (and the jobs required to support their efforts) for free? I challenge you to come up with a VIABLE plan to replace me and every other "well-to-do" government worker, and no, using day laborers from Home Depot does not count as “viable”.

The City Council where I work has already investigated the possibility of outsourcing my department and the services we provide. You know what they found after going through an entire bid process involving private local and nationwide providers? They discovered that we already provide the city (and its citizens) with a higher level of support and innovation, at an overall lower cost, which could not be matched by ANY of the competing private businesses, one of which was the nation's biggest retailer of electronics and computer services. And that included the cost of covering our ever-so-lucrative benefits packages! I'd say that officially puts us government workers squarely within the "most bang for your tax dollar" category. If you're confident that your department where you work provides the stock holders with the best possible product/service at the lowest possible overall cost, I dare you, at your next meeting, to bring up the idea of having a Managed Competition bid like we did and see how you fare. If you don't measure up, no worries, it will only cost you your job.

Just out of curiosity - Why is it that you and your ilk think that people who work in a government office don't deserve comparable wage, benefit and retirement packages, just as their counterparts in the private sector enjoy? Is it because you perceive it to be paid for by "your dollars"? Well, if you work for Chevron and I buy a tank of gas to get to my government job, some of "my dollars" go toward your wages and benefits, but you don't see tears streaming down my cheeks because of it. And imagine this - when I get paid, some of the money in my paycheck is "my dollars" too, because I pay the same taxes we are all required to pay to support our city's basic, essential services. I contribute to my own paycheck – do you?

Look, everybody has to work somewhere and some of us just happen to work in a government office. We are no different from any other grunt that reports to duty at a desk every day. We have the same financial needs as every other working stiff. Don't the people who perform and support your city's services deserve the same dignity and consideration of their labors from the taxpayers as your stock holders and board of directors of your company, have afforded you? If not, why not?

I am going to try and explain

I am going to try and explain why I resent what is going on in the United States of American and being carried out by the Executive of the Corporations, Companies, Institutions and for profit Organizations with the help of our elected Greedy and Corrupt Politicians.

Annie-Rose Strasser wrote: "while CEOs may be reaping the rewards of higher profits and a growing stock market, very little of that achievement spreads as far as the average worker — or even the company’s stockholders."

To use what will be a famous Mitt Romney word choice soon PRODUCTIVITY has increased every year since 1950 and I lived through it. At first the Productivity increases were shared by all within the Company, Corporation, Institution or for Profit Organization. Then with the George W. Bush presidency and the Republican controlled Congress the "Rich and Powerful" bought and Paid the Greedy and Corrupt Politicains to allow them to have huge Tax Breaks and Cuts. The Executives also decide why should we share the increased Profits provided through Productivity increases? Their answer was simple to increase their own Salaries and Bonuses.

This is what I resent about what is going on in the United States of American and being carried out by the Executive of the Corporations, Companies, Institutions and for profit Organizations.

The "Rich and Powerful" Executives forgot one simple thing that they themselves did not PRODUCE anything that they could sell for Profit. I am sorry to say that I was an Executive even if I did not do things this way Far to many did.

I will tell this simple Fact to every worker. You by yourself do not have any ability to correct this problem on your own. YOU LACK THE POWER. The only why that you can create any leverage at all to make the playing field and closer to level, you must Organize and join a Union. You also must become Political Addicts, know what is going on, know who votes for what in Congress, and then vote for the Candidate who votes with you or will vote with you.

Excellent advice. Ethics is

Excellent advice. Ethics is non-existant in the American board room. Imagine how our economy would take off, if the fruits of what the American worker produced were fairly shared with those who produced the products and services with the sweat of their own backs. We're not asking for it all, or even an unfairly large slice - just what's fair. Too much of the results of our productivity is hoarded at the top, by those who already have 2 vacation homes and whose kids are all guaranteed an education at the finest private universities.

Can't the 1% see that the middle class IS the foundation that supports their wealth? When the foundation crumbles, the house WILL fall. It is utterly inevitable.

Maybe the Ameerican worker

Maybe the Ameerican worker should forego lunch and bathroom breaks so he/she can improve his/her productivity -- that might improve his/her relative compensation . . . NOT!

No salvation without Revenue.

No salvation without Revenue. There aren’t enough funds in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, school breakfast, Education, the EPA and the 99% to balance the budget and pay off the Debt. Romney, against the will of 67% of the people, wants deeper cuts to the 1% and corporations adding 20 trillion to the debt and larger deficits.

Norman Allen's picture

Don't forget: the CEOs are

Don't forget: the CEOs are made of gold and diamonds while the average worker is a mere mortal made of clay.... They are born to be unaccountable....They are either inheritors of massive wealth/power or will do anything for the super rich to make that kind of money.... Would you and I kill for money, day in and day out? There are some whose company lives off killing others!

How long does the typical

How long does the typical American worker have to work to equal the bloated salary, pension, and benefits of the average unionized public sector employee?

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