CEO pay rises far outpace pay rise, says new union report

July 18 (Reuters) – CEOs of the S&P 500 (.SPX) earned $18.3 million on average in 2021, 324 times the pay of their median workers and above the 2020 ratio, the main U.S. union will report on Monday.

Increases for business leaders have far exceeded wage gains that have failed to keep up with inflation, the AFL-CIO said, in an annual report that has become widely cited as a measure of trends in inequality among United States.

“Rising CEO salaries and corporate profits right now are signals of an unbalanced economy,” said Brandon Rees, deputy director of the AFL-CIO.

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The 2021 CEO-to-worker ratio in the S&P 500 was the highest since 2018, when the union was first able to track the figure based on new disclosures. The ratio was 299 to 1 in 2020. Read more Inc. (AMZN.O) CEO Andy Jassy’s total compensation of $212.7 million last year was 6,474 times that of his median worker. It was the highest ratio of any S&P 500 company based on their latest proxy statements, the AFL-CIO said.

An Amazon spokesperson said Jassy’s compensation was “competitive with that of CEOs of other large companies” because it is vested over 10 years.

The highest-paid CEO in the S&P 500 was Peter Kern of online travel company Expedia Group Inc. (EXPE.O), whose compensation was $296.2 million, according to the study.

An Expedia spokesperson noted details in the company’s proxy statement regarding Kern’s compensation, including that equity awards constitute the bulk of the compensation and will not fully vest until at least 2026.

Last year, the best CEOs received large stock awards and cash bonuses. Read more . The union found that the average salary of S&P 500 CEOs rose 18% in 2021, while consumer prices in the United States rose 7%.

Other federal figures cited by the union show workers’ nominal wages rose 4.7% last year, but fell 2.4% adjusted for inflation.

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Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston and Cole Horton in New York Editing by Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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