America’s millionaires got 30% pay rise during pandemic whilst poorest suffered

Sinead Butler
Wednesday 12 May 2021 13:25
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Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta saw his salary increase, despite the pandemic.

(Getty Images)

A new report has shown that bosses of some of America’s worst paying companies still saw their earnings increase despite the pandemic - while their workers’ pay suffered.

Millionaire CEOs average pay rose by 29% in 2020, meanwhile their employee’s wages decreased by 2%, according to the Institute for Policy Studies .

Good to see the pandemic affected everyone equally...

The report researched financial information from the 100 companies on the S&P 500 index with the lowest median wage for worker - some of whom were essential workers that had to continue to work throughout the pandemic.

Even though workers were instrumental at keeping businesses open, it was the CEO’s who enjoyed the benefits with an average salary of $15.3 million.

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On top of that, CEOs also benefitted from improved bonuses and relaxed performance targets as a result of the financial crisis.

Where as, employees were the ones who actually felt the financial impact of the pandemic, as their already low wages only declined further to a median of $28,187.

So which CEO saw the biggest increase?

It was Hilton CEO, Christopher Nassetta who received the biggest pay packet, The Guardian reported.

Despite the hospitality industry suffering immensely from the pandemic, Nassetta still managed to earn $55.9 million in 2020.

Meanwhile his employees saw their wage dramatically drop from rom $43,695 to $28,608 in the space of a year.

Elsewhere, David Gibbs, CEO of Yum Brands’, the parent company of popular food outlets such as Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell earned $14.6m, despite having donated his annual $900,000 salary to pay for $1,000 bonuses for general managers at Yum Brands stores.

Instead, the Yum Brands board gave Gibbs a $1.4m cash bonus, as well as $880,000 in stock grants, while the company’s workers made do on median pay of just $11,377.

Suddenly, those worker bonuses don’t really look that great.

In a similar move, Chipotle’s board removed COVID-related financial costs and performance when deciding on their CEO’s compensation - how nice of them.

There seems to be a recurring pattern of one-sided generosity as this ended up being some 2,898 times more than what the average worker at the company was paid in 2020.

As a result of publishing this report, the Institute for Policy Studies urged lawmakers to back the Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act – which would force companies to address the problem by narrowing the wage gap between their highest earners and lowest paid employees.

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