One of the most glaring consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the continued growth of income inequality. In Oregon, which is often ranked as having one of the country’s most “business-friendly” corporate tax rates, the imbalance between the pay of CEOs and working people continues to be a problem.
According to the National AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch website, the pay of S&P 500 CEOs has increased, on average, $3.4 million over the past 10 years. During the same period of time, the average U.S. production and nonsupervisory worker’s pay increased by just $8,360. In Oregon, CEOs of S&P 500 companies received, on average, $9,914,132 in total compensation. Alternatively, the average worker pay in 2019 was $48,037.
Over the past several months, millions of working people have been furloughed or laid off due to shutdowns related to COVID-19. Nike, Inc., Oregon’s largest company, recently announced company-wide job cuts, laying off 11% of its global workforce due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Nike, Inc. CEO Mark Parker is the highest-paid S&P 500 CEO in Oregon, receiving $13,968,022 in total compensation last year.
“When the CEO of Nike makes nearly $14,000,000 a year, it’s no surprise that Oregon has an alarming CEO-to-worker pay ratio,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor. “And as long as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell caters to his corporate donors by rejecting the HEROES Act, everyday workers will continue to pay the price. Senate Republicans must take action and provide the relief that working families need and pass the HEROES Act before it’s too late.”
As America’s CEOs continue to bolster their personal wealth, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. Nearly 15% of workers were unemployed in April of this year compared to a high of 10% unemployment after the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis. In June, Oregon’s unemployment rate was posted at 11%, months after achieving historic low unemployment last December. Meanwhile, thousands of UI claims remain unprocessed by the states’ Employment Department, just as Republican lawmakers in congress have proposed cutting the federal weekly unemployment benefit from $600 to $200. Until congress takes action to pass the HEROES Act to aid working people and families, the CEO-to-worker pay ratios will only broaden.