Ron Johnson, the disgraced outgoing CEO of JC Penney, made an astonishing 1,795-times the average wage and benefits of his department store workers, according to a new survey from Bloomberg. That makes JC Penney the single most unequal company in the U.S., by CEO-worker pay ratio.
Other companies in the "top" ten included Starbucks, Simon Property Group, CBS, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Here are the five companies with the highest CEO/worker pay ratio compared with the S&P average and the 1965 average among the 350 largest companies.
The historical comparison is important because the gap has straight-up exploded in the last 50 years. It's been a wild roller-coaster for CEO pay since the tech bust and the housing bust framed the last decade. But the overall story is that the CEO ratio has increased by a factor of ten in the last half century.
Why are executives making so much more than their workers? Here are two explanations.
First, it's important to see how the ratio is being stretched on both ends. At the bottom, you have the slowing growth in market wages
for middle- and lower-class work (like JC Penney salesperson or Starbucks barista). At the top, you have the acceleration of stock returns for public companies the 1990s and 2000s, which has fattened up executive compensation.