Just The Facts

Just the Facts: CEOs and the Rest of Us

Executive compensation wasn’t always so outlandish (and still isn’t in most other developed countries).

Takeaways


  • In 1980, U.S. CEOs out-earned the average worker by a factor of 42. The gap peaked at a ratio of 525-to-1 in 2000.
  • The average Japanese CEO in 2012 made 67 times what the average Japanese worker earned.
  • French CEOs make 104 times the average French worker's pay.
  • Spain's CEOs out-earn the average worker in their country by a factor of 127.
  • In 2012, the average German CEO made 147 times what the average worker earned.
  • The average UK CEO earned 84 times what the average worker made in 2012.
  • The Swiss are voting in Nov 2013 on whether to cap CEOs’ pay 12 times what their lowest employees make.

On November 24, 2013, voters in Switzerland – usually a bastion of big business and capitalism – will vote on an initiative designed to cap the salaries of CEOs of Swiss companies to 12 times what their lowest paid employees make.

This is a good time to provide some global perspective on the issue:

1. On average, the CEOs of large U.S. companies received $12.3 million in compensation in 2012, based on an analysis of S&P 500 companies.

2. Given that the average American worker earned $34,645 in 2012, the typical U.S. CEO earns 354 times what the average worker does.

3. Put another way, the average U.S. CEO took home about $5,894 in pay for every hour of work last year (based on 52 40-hour weeks).

4. By comparison, the average U.S. worker pocketed $16.66 an hour — while a worker at minimum wage earned $7.25.

5. A worker at the U.S. minimum wage would have to work 813 hours — or 20 weeks — to earn an hour’s worth of CEO pay.

6. Germany’s CEOs received an average compensation package of $5.9 million in 2012. That was the third-highest among OECD countries, following the United States and Switzerland, where CEOs earn 148 times the average worker pay.

7. By comparison, the average German worker was paid $40,223 last year. The country’s CEOs therefore out earn the average worker by a multiple of 147.

8. Among Europe’s other large economies, French CEOs earn 104 times the average French worker’s pay, while Spain’s CEOs out-earn the average worker in their country by a factor of 127.

9. The CEOs of the 100 largest companies in the United Kingdom earned an average of just under $3.8 million in 2012. That is 84 times the average British worker’s compensation of $44,743.

10. Britain’s CEO-to-worker wage ratio today is almost exactly the same as the one in the United States in 1990 — more than two decades ago.

11. At that time, U.S. CEOs earned “only” 85 times the average U.S. worker’s wage.

12. In 1980, U.S. CEOs out-earned the average worker by a factor of just 42. The gap peaked at a ratio of 525-to-1 in 2000.

13. The average CEO of a large Japanese company earned almost $2.4 million in total compensation in 2012.

14. That is 67 times what the average Japanese worker earns.

15. When it comes to the average compensation for rank-and-file workers, wages in both countries are roughly the same ($35,143 in Japan, compared to $34,645 in the United States).

From Executive Paywatch: CEO Pay and You by the AFL-CIO. Data on international ratios are from the OECD.

 

 

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