The pandemic did not change rising economic inequality in the United States—go figure. We’ve seen again and again how existing inequalities instead were exacerbated as people who could work remotely did so and stayed relatively safe while others had to put their health and safety on the line to keep scraping by, as women have been forced out of the workforce, as racial inequalities were heightened both in the economy and in the question of who was likeliest to get sick and to die.
And the pandemic did not disrupt the growing gulf between CEO pay and average worker pay, a preliminary analysis by the Economic Policy Institute finds. According to early data from 281 firms, “The offer by CEOs to forgo salary increases during the pandemic was largely symbolic. Salaries were stable, but many CEOs pocketed a windfall by cashing in stock options and obtaining vested stock awards, compounding income inequalities laid bare during the past year,” Lawrence Mishel and Jori Kandra report. “CEO compensation, including realized stock options and vested stock awards, rose 15.9% from 2019 to 2020 among early reporting firms. Growth in CEO compensation was slightly faster than last year’s strong growth—14.0% between 2018 and 2019—while the annual compensation of the average worker increased just 1.8% in 2020.”
This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on May 29, 2021. Reprinted with permission.
About the author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006 and a full-time staff since 2011, currently acting as assistant managing editor