CEO-to-worker compensation ratio, with options
granted and options realized, 1965–2011
"Options granted" compensation includes salary, bonus, restricted stock grants, options granted and long-term incentive payouts for CEOs at the top 350 firms ranked by sales. "Options exercised" compensation includes salary, bonus, restricted stock grants, options exercised, and long-term incentive payouts for CEOs at the top 350 firms ranked by sales. (Economic Policy Institute)
The chart speaks for itself. In 1965, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay was 20.1-to-1. Now the gap is more than 10 times that. When you combine that with the low-wage economy
, you get a very unpleasant snapshot that goes to the heart of income inequality. Remind me once again who is engaging in class warfare.
Laura Clawson looked Wednesday at just how much bigger a slice of the economic pie (shrunken for the past four years) the top 1 percent have cut for themselves.
The top CEO compensation adds to this picture. Lawrence Mishel and Natalie Sabadish at the Economic Policy Institute show us in detail what's happened:
Though lower than in other years in the last decade, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio in 2011 of more than 200-to-1 is far above the ratios prevailing in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and mid-1990s. This illustrates that CEOs have fared far better than the typical worker, the stock market, or the U.S. economy over the last several decades. That begs the question: is there any gauge against which to measure CEO pay that hasn’t been surpassed?
The question is: Can something be done about this? Or, if something can be done about this, what is it? Or if the stagnation in workers' wages can be reversed and Americans in the bottom four quintiles of the population given a more livable income, will it matter what the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio is?
Whatever the case, a little bit of populist rhetoric every election cycle won't do anything to address this imbalance. Serious policy change is needed. Who will give it to us?