Gaping Inequality: CEO Earns 1,795 Times The Average Worker

Bloomberg compiles data on worker to CEO pay gap for the Standard & Poor 500.The financial crisis wreaked havoc on ordinary Americans while leaving many CEOs unscathed. So federal reforms, including the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, required companies to disclose their CEO-to-worker pay ratio. But for various reasons, they didn't do it, so Bloomberg News did the legwork. The news service published a chart that reveals staggering income inequality at the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of companies.

Bloomberg compiled the data by assessing companies' filings for the past two fiscal years and government data on worker pay by industry, as companies as a rule don't disclose workers' salaries. The results show that American CEOs earn as much as 1,795 times what their average workers do.

J.C. Penney Tops The List: J.C. Penney Co. has the most glaringly inequal pay ratio, according to the Bloomberg study. When Ron Johnson was CEO, he earned $53.3 million -- 1,795 times more than the average worker's $29,688 salary. He also presided over layoffs of 43,000 workers and a 25 percent drop in sales; he was fired from his job last month.

Fast Food Makes The List: Yum Brands Inc., which operates Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, had the biggest CEO-to-worker salary gap among fast food companies. Yum Brands' CEO David Novak earned $20.4 million, 819 times more than the average worker at his company. Little surprise then that fast food workers in New York City and Chicago have recently been agitating to have their wages raised to $15 per hour.

What About America's Largest Private Employer? Walmart has 2.1 million workers, and according to Bloomberg, they don't compare so well, either. Bloomberg's data shows that CEO Michael Duke earned $18.1 million in 2011, about 611 times more than the average worker (who makes $29,688). That ratio was 18th on the list. Walmart and other retail workers have also begun demonstrating in new and innovative ways to try to improve their work conditions.

More: The Most Popular CEO In America Is ... Who


The Company's Point Of View: Some say that in spite of how odd it looks, the pay gap is necessary. "A board has to pay what it takes to get the Michael Jordans to run their company," Chris Crawford, the executive director of Longnecker and Associates, an executive compensation consultancy, told AOL Jobs. And judging companies by sector may also be flawed -- some retail brands pay surprisingly well, for instance. Others have different reasons for being unmoved by the data. In speaking to Bloomberg, Tim Bartl, the president of the HR Policy Association, which represents the chiefs of the human resources divisions at 335 large corporations, dismissed the whole concept behind the wage gaps. "We don't believe the information would be material to investors," he said.

See below for the top ten worst ratios, as compiled by Bloomberg:

10. Yum Brands Inc. -- pay ratio of 1-819 ($20.4 million CEO pay vs. $24,913 worker pay)

9. Discovery Communications Inc. -- pay ratio of 1-833 ($52.4 million CEO pay vs. $62,930 worker pay)

8. Nike Inc. -- pay ratio of 1-1,050 ($35.2 million CEO pay vs. $33,550 worker pay)

7. Ralph Lauren Corp. -- pay ratio of 1-1,083 ($36.3 million CEO pay vs. $33,550 worker pay)

6. CBS Corp. -- pay ratio of 1-1,111 ($69.9 million CEO pay vs. $62,930 worker pay)

5. Starbucks Corp.-- pay ratio of 1-1,135 ($28.9 million CEO pay vs. $25,463 worker pay)

4. Oracle Corp. -- pay ratio of 1-1,287 ($96.2 million CEO pay vs. $74,863 worker pay)

3. Simon Property Group Inc. -- pay ratio of 1-1,584 ($137.2 million CEO pay vs. $86,033 worker pay)

2. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. -- pay ratio of 1-1,640 ($48.1 million CEO pay vs. $29,310 worker pay)

1. J.C. Penney Co. -- pay ratio of 1-1,795 ($53.3 million CEO pay vs. $29,688 worker pay)

Click here for Bloomberg's full list of the 250 companies with the widest worker-to-CEO pay gap.

What do you think of the gap? Share your comments below.


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