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CEO pay vs. workers: New report tracks pay differences at Ohio companies

These companies pay their CEOs an average of more than $14.5 million per year.
Credit: andreyphoto63 - stock.adobe.com
Stacks of money.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's note: This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal.

At least 18 Ohio companies pay their CEO more than 100 times what they pay their median worker, a new report shows.

Those companies pay their CEOs an average of more than $14.5 million per year, according to a report compiling financial data produced by the AFL-CIO, a trade union that advocates for higher worker wages. Those same businesses pay workers a median of about $66,000.

The report provides a look at the growing chasm between the staggering sums CEOs take home versus what most their workers earn. Federal law passed in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse requires companies to disclose their CEO to “median employee” pay ratio.

Looking across the S&P 500, the average CEO earned $18.3 million in 2021 — a $540,000 increase over the prior year, according to the report. Meanwhile, their average employees earn $58,260 — a $1,303 increase. For workers, this amounts to a real wage decrease given historic levels of economic inflation.

Ohio companies' CEO-worker pay ratio

Credit: Ohio Capital Journal

The Ohio companies prove no more equitable in their pay gaps.

For instance, Bath & Body Works, a Reynoldsburg based company that sells various beauty products and fragrances, paid CEO Andrew Meslow $17.7 million in 2022. Its median worker earned $10,632.

“If the total compensation per hour earned by the median employee was extrapolated to full-time employment, median compensation would be approximately $26,200 and the ratio would be 674 to 1,” the company wrote in a recent financial statement.

Kroger, the Cincinnati based grocery store chain, paid CEO William Rodney McMullen $18.2 million in 2022. Its median worker earns $27,000.

More than half of Kroger’s employees are part-time workers, the company said in a financial statement.

Ohio’s highest paid CEO within the index: Procter & Gamble’s David Taylor, who earned $24 million in 2021. The company’s median employee earns about $70,000 per year.

“Based on this information, the ratio of the annual total compensation of Mr. Taylor to the median of the annual total compensation of employees was 343 to 1,” the company said in a financial statement.

In a speech last week, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Fred Redmond characterized the trend as “greedflation,” arguing corporate profit secret behavior is to blame for the inflationary economy.

“The 'heroes' of the pandemic – and by heroes I mean the working people who showed up and risked their lives and health and safety to keep our country running – are still showing up and working around the clock, but working for less,” he said.

Several economists have disputed this interpretation, attributing the spikes in inflation to the pandemic, subsequent supply chain disruptions, cash injections created by federal policy, and war in Ukraine and related international economic sanctions.

The Ohio Capital Journal contacted seven companies with the highest ratios between their CEOs and workers asking for an explanation of the gap. Only Dublin-based Cardinal Health (259:1 ratio) responded.

"At this time, we’re going to pass on commenting," said spokeswoman Tori Simmons.

Read more: Ohio Capital Journal


Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated jobs story on July 26, 2022.

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