Tax Day, 2013: U.S. pay gap is biggest in the world

WASHINGTON – Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, unveiled the 2013 Executive Pay Watch today, showing that U.S. CEOs of the biggest firms made 354 times what the average rank-and-file worker earned – by far the widest pay gap in the world.

Last year CEOs received an average $12.3 million while the average worker took home around $34, 645.

The data in the newly-released report is the latest confirmation that CEO to worker pay disparities have increased dramatically over the past several decades. As recently as 30 years ago, CEOs were paid 42 times as much as rank-and-file workers.

The labor federation’s Executive Pay Watch, which tracks CEO pay at S&P 500 companies, is recognized as the most comprehensive online database established for that purpose.

In addition to compiling the data, however, PayWatch is now exposing some of the ways that CEO-backed groups such as the Business Roundtable and Fix the Debt are running campaigns to gin up a deficit scare to conceal their efforts to get more tax cuts for corporations, while attacking Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits for workers.

“American chief executives continued to do very well for themselves last year, while workers struggle to make ends meet,” said Trumka. “We are calling out the hypocrisy of rich CEOs who have the gall to ask for corporate tax cuts to be paid for by squeezing the retirement security for working America. The American public deserves to know the truth about their self-serving agenda.”

Closing the corporate tax loophole that allows U.S. multinational companies to avoid taxation on overseas profits would raise $42 billion in new revenue in 2013 alone.

The report points out that CEO groups like the Campaign to Fix the Debt nevertheless want to overhaul the tax system so that corporate profits kept overseas are permanently exempt from U.S. taxes.

An interactive map allows users to compare and contrast CEO pay ratios of top executives all over the world.

“Not only is U.S. CEO pay out of whack with historical norms, it is off the chart globally,” said Trumka. “For example, in Switzerland, where voters recently imposed new limits on executive pay, the CEO-to-worker pay gap is 148 times. In the United Kingdom, the CEO-to worker pay gap is one quarter as large as ours. And in Japan, the gap is even smaller.”

Photo: Tony Pecinovsky/PW



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik started as labor editor of the People's World in May, 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York. Along with being labor editor, Wojcik is a co-editor of