A new report from the liberal Economic Policy Institute found that when you count up salaries, stock options, bonuses and the other forms of compensation that make up the modern one-percenter’s portfolio, the CEOs of America’s 350 largest companies earned an average of $15.6 million apiece last year. That’s 271 times the pay of the average U.S worker.
Of course, many of those executives are only one bad earnings call away from a pink slip. But the report resonates because its numbers are yet another stark reminder of the very real issue of income inequality in the U.S.
According to the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Missourian is paid $44,620 a year. Kansans lag slightly behind at $43,950. But for the states’ lowest earners — those making the respective minimum wages of $7.70 and $7.25 per hour — even those paydays are a faraway dream. Working full time at those rates, taking no days off, they pull down roughly a third of that.
Last month, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens allowed a bill to become law that banned cities from raising minimum wage rates locally, even though knocking down bossy, big government mandates is usually a conservative tent pole. That means thousands of workers in St. Louis will take a pay cut of more than 20 percent when the law goes into effect Aug. 28. We suggested the governor veto the measure at the time, yet we also acknowledge that raising the minimum wage isn’t a panacea for what ails low-income workers. Economists at the University of Washington recently concluded that Seattle’s gradual march to a $15 wage is already causing some employers to reduce hours and staffing levels, ultimately costing the very people it aimed to help $125 a month.
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Automation and global markets continue to chip away at the U.S. manufacturing base. Today’s service economy doesn’t offer the pay and stability of the factory jobs that built the baby boomer middle class.
Multimillionaire entrepreneur and activist Nick Hanauer recently argued in Politico that he and his fellow plutocrats must raise wages to avoid major societal upheaval. We all know the pro-business maxim that you don’t ask a poor man for a job. The big bosses with their deep pockets have a vested interest in making sure they pay employees enough that they can also become customers.