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It’s a no-brainer that CEOs are paid significantly more than the average worker, but it’s almost painful to hear exactly how much more they are making.
Although the biggest gap in pay between the average worker and a CEO was 525 times more in 2000, CEOs in some of the US’s biggest companies earned an average of US$12.3m (S$15.2m) last year, while the average Joe took home US$34,645 (S$42,829), Yahoo reported.
This is a far cry from the situation in 1980, when CEOs earned only 42 times the average employee.
The figures, from the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), found the biggest earners in 2012 included Oracle’s Larry Ellison (US$96.1m/S$118.8m), Credit Acceptance’s Brett Roberts (US$54.3m/S$67.1m) and Discovery Communications’ David Zaslav (US$50m/S$61.8m).
However, the average CEO annual salary dropped 5% from last year – partially due to Apple’s Tim Cook. His salary fell from US$375m (S$463m) in 2011, when his compensation benefited from long-term stock awards, to US$4.2m (S$5.2m) last year.
Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO, hopes the report will remind policymakers about the situation of the average worker.
“They struggle every day to make ends meet, their wages are stagnant, their companies are trying to take away their health care and pensions, and they’re angry,” Trumka said. “And very few them know what’s happening with CEO (pay).”
The union is also pressuring regulators to push for publicly traded companies to be transparent with their CEOs’ pay – a move that is being heavily challenged by the companies themselves.