It's a sweet time to be a CEO:
Propelled by a soaring stock market, the median pay package for a CEO rose above eight figures for the first time last year. The head of a typical large public company earned a record $10.5 million, an increase of 8.8 percent from $9.6 million in 2012, according to an Associated Press/Equilar pay study.
You know who'd be thrilled with an 8.8 percent raise, but isn't seeing their pay propelled by that soaring stock market? The average American worker.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said average weekly wages for U.S. workers rose 1.3 percent in 2013. At that rate an employee would have to work 257 years to make what a typical S&P 500 CEO makes in a year.
That 1.3 percent "raise" in 2013 wasn't an aberration
From 1973 to 2011, worker productivity grew 80 percent, while median hourly compensation, after inflation, grew by just one-eighth that amount, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group. And since 2000, productivity has risen 23 percent while real hourly pay has essentially stagnated.
Imagine if, over the past four years, the minimum wage had increased by the same percentage as CEO pay. Or nevermind the minimum wage, what about the median household income, which was $51,017
in 2012, having fallen for five straight years? How different would an America in which working people's pay was rising like CEO pay—not from $9.6 million to $10.5 million, but from $51,000 to $55,500—look? That would be an America in which workers weren't quite so scared and desperate. And that's exactly why corporate America is so invested in keeping wages low.