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Sure, they work long hours… but so do you. The chief executives of the United States’ 365 largest firms received an average of $5.8 million apiece in compensation from their employers in 1996, up 54 percent from 1995.

It’s not news that they received their very fat checks and bonuses at a time when the economy was on the rebound and the stock market surged. Yet many of the most well-paid among them also laid off thousands of employees last year, and the raw numbers can be startling.

Robert Allen of AT&T, for example, walked off with nearly $6 million after dropping 49,000 workers. And even after putting aside his stock options and other bonuses, he still enjoyed a 232-to-1 salary ratio compared to the lowest-paid full-time AT&T employees, who earned barely $10,000.

For a thorough summary of chief executive pay levels, a discussion of the correlation between executive pay and layoffs, and an outline of union, business and community efforts to close the wage gap, read “Executive Excess,” the fourth annual executive compensation survey, published by United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies.

Call (617) 423-2148 to order a copy.

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