When unions and their left-wing followers roll out their class warfare rhetoric to drum up hate against those who run companies, their ire is largely misplaced, according to the federal government’s data.
According to the American Enterprise Institute (which complied the data), the average CEO’s annual salary in 2015 was $185,850—or five times the average full-time workers’ salary ($48,320).
This is a far cry from the excessive executive pay the AFL-CIO rails against every year, notes AEI.
We can get a more accurate and complete picture of CEO compensation by looking at wage data for all CEOs, not just a small handful, just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its annual report on Occupational Employment and Wages for 2015. The BLS report provides “employment and wage estimates by area and by industry for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups,” including the category “chief executives.” In 2015, the BLS reports that the average pay for America’s 238,940 chief executives was only $185,850. Looking at a smaller group of “chief executives,” who according to the BLS manage “companies and enterprises” (a group that is more comparable to the S&P500 CEOs than all “chief executives”), the 20,620 CEOs in that category earned an average salary last year of $220,700 (data here). Whereas most comparisons of CEO pay to average worker pay only consider the CEOs of the S&P 500 companies (or 2.4% of the total reported by the BLS), this larger sample of more than 20,000 CEOs reported by the BLS gives us a much better understanding of “average CEO compensation.”
The chart above shows the annual ratio of average CEO pay for the more than 20,620 CEOs who head companies and enterprises to the average annual pay of full-time workers based on BLS data for all occupations. For 2015, the average CEO earned $220,700 and the average full-time worker earned $48,320 (data here), for an Average CEO-to-Average Worker Pay ratio of only 4.56-to-1 – the same as the previous three years, and actually slightly lower than the peak ratios of more than 4.6-to-1 in both 2010 and 2011.
For the sample of 20,620 CEOs reported by the BLS, their average pay increased only 2.1% in 2015, from $216,100 in 2014 to $220,700 in 2015. In contrast, BLS data show that the average pay of all full-time workers increased by the same 2.1% last year to $48,320 from $47,320 in 2014. Therefore, the average worker last year saw an increase in their pay that was exactly the same increase in pay for the average CEO. Over the last decade, the average annual increase in CEO pay of 3.3% is only slightly higher than the average annual increase of 2.5% for workers in all occupations. [Emphasis and links in original.]
While the Leftists running the AFL-CIO would never admit it, as it turns out, CEO pay isn’t nearly as excessive as they’d have the public believe.