AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch Propaganda Greatly Exaggerates America’s Pay Gap

Like the fisherman’s story of the BIG fish that got away, the AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch spins a tall tale and further erodes the union federation’s credibility.

Source: Screenshot of AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch page

As it has every year for more than a decade, the AFL-CIO released its annual report on executive pay earlier this week.

In its report, the nation’s largest federation of labor unions uses the pay gap between the average American worker and the CEO’s of 500 of the largest publicly-traded companies in America to make its case against “corporate greed.”

The problem with the AFL-CIO’s report is that, by using only the CEO’s of the S&P 500 as its target, the labor federation greatly exaggerates its case.

“This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “Too many working people are struggling to get by, to afford the basics, to save for college, to retire with dignity while CEOs are paying themselves more and more. Our economy works best when consumers have money to spend. That means raising wages for workers and reining in out of control executive pay.”



On the surface, it sounds like as though there is the gap between the average CEO pay in America and the average worker is massive. However, it isn’t.

A deeper dive into what the vast majority of CEOs make in America reveals that the AFL-CIO, as it has in the past, is cherry picking its data and using only those of the CEOs in the largest companies in America (the S&P 500).

As the AFL-CIO uses data from 500 of America’s biggest companies (then compares them to the “average” American worker), it completely washes over the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states there are actually 210,160 CEOs in America.

Moreoever, their average pay is not the $13.94 million that the AFL-CIO cites.

In fact the average CEO makes much, much less than that.

According to the BLS, in 2017, the mean annual wage for America’s CEOs was $196,050.

The median annual wage is actually lower, at $183,270.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Although the AFL-CIO’s talking points get parroted by news outlets like CNN, if the AFL-CIO continues to push disingenuous propaganda, it cannot claim ignorance when people no longer take it seriously.

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