CEOs at the 100 lowest-paid companies made an average of $601 for every dollar earned by the average worker last year, with executive compensation continuing to climb to record levels.
new a report From the Institute for Policy Studies, the 100 S&P 500 companies have identified the lowest wages for their workers, which the report calls the “100 Lowest Wage Companies.” These companies paid their employees – including non-US workers and part-time workers – an average wage of $31,672 in 2022, while their chief executives earned an average of $15.3m.
Many of these companies also invest millions each year in share buybacks – when a company buys shares of its own stock as a way to boost share prices and give more money to shareholders. Among the “100 Lowest Paying Companies,” 90 conducted stock buybacks, and collectively spent $341.2 billion buying their own stock from January 2020 to May 2023.
“This is really hard data that reinforces the main story in corporate America: Instead of investing in their workforce or investing to be competitive, over the long term, they have been spending huge sums to enrich their executives and shareholders,” said Sarah Anderson, lead author of the report. Even the people working in these companies can get it.”
The report highlights companies that have stood out within the group, including the highest-paid CEOs and the largest share buybacks.
LiveNation CEO Michael Rapinoe earned the group’s largest compensation, earning $139 million in 2022. Meanwhile, the company’s average pay last year was $25,673. Although LiveNation has come under scrutiny for its dominance of the live music industry in the United States, so has its revenue. to rise Over the past year as more Americans attended the concerts.
Among the companies that have bought back stock, Lowe’s has been the biggest spender, committing $34.9 billion to its own equity over the past three years. Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison earned $17.5 million in compensation in 2022, while the average worker’s pay was $29,584 for the year.
CEOs from the “100 Lowest Paying Companies” who worked at their companies from 2019 through at least 2022 saw their personal equity holdings increase by 33% over those three years, an average growth of $184.7 million. In comparison, average corporate pay has increased by 10%.
Dollar Tree CEO Michael Wittensky has seen the largest increase in his equity holdings, which have risen 2.393% over the past three years to $30.5 million as the company grows its retail footprint. In fact, average workers’ wages were down in comparison, falling 4.4% to $14,702. The company has spent about $2 billion on share buybacks over the past three years.
Stock buybacks have become more common over the past few years. Repurchases reached a Score high In 2022 it is expected that up to 1 trillion dollars for the first time in 2023. Supporters argue that they properly pass the company’s dividends on to its shareholders and help create stock market activity, but the practice is attracting criticism in Washington.
The bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 included a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks, making them more expensive for companies. And in his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Joe Biden proposed increasing the indirect tax to 4%.
The report says there are more policies the federal government could take to discourage share buybacks. For example, by prioritizing companies that do not participate in share buybacks when selecting contractors and companies that receive subsidies. According to the report, 51 of the 100 “low-paying” companies received federal contracts over the past three years worth $24.1 billion and spent $160 billion on stock buybacks. According to the report, the average CEO compensation for these 51 companies amounted to $ 12.7 million in 2022. In comparison, a member of the Cabinet in the White House earns $ 226,300 annually.
“We’re not talking about putting an iron cap on how much a CEO can get, but we can use government policy to encourage companies to move in the right direction,” Anderson said.