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Report: Ohio's top CEOs making 322 times average employee wage

Policy Matters Ohio study focused on top employers
Report: Ohio's top CEO's making 322 times average employee wage
Posted at 9:38 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 02:53:53-05

CLEVELAND — A report released by Policy Matters Ohio indicates CEOs at Ohio's top 100 employers were paid an average of 322 times what the average employee was paid at those companies in 2020.

The report compiled federal data submitted by the companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission, required by the Dodd-Frank Act, and showed the pay gap between CEOs and their employees continues to grow.

Policy Matters Ohio told News 5 it analyzed all 54 of Ohio’s top 100 employers that filed reports with the SEC. The average CEO on that list was paid nearly $16 million last year, compared to $14.6 million in 2019. Meanwhile, at the median, these corporations cut the typical worker’s pay from $52,500 in 2019 to $51,494 in 2020.

Fifteen of the major employers reported median pay of less than $26,500, roughly the federal poverty level for a family of four. Together, these 15 companies — including Walmart, Kroger, and Dollar Tree — employed more than 185,000 Ohioans at the time of reporting.

Hannah Halbert, Executive Director with Policy Matters Ohio, told News 5 policy changes are needed at the federal and state level, that major Ohio employers need to increase wages.

“This has an influence on how people are getting paid, how working people live their lives, and how working people can provide for their families," Halbert said. “The average was 322 times more for CEO pay than what a typical worker in their shops were making.”

“A third of those reporting, their CEO were making more than 500-times a typical worker. For starters we can look at rebalancing the tax code for those CEOs and those major corporations, making sure they’re paying what they owe, and pay their fair share.”

“When it comes to Ohio's minimum wage, even with the adjustment that is coming in January to $9.30, it’s still going to be about 28% less than what people in our grandparent's generation were making.”

"The Sherwin Williams CEO made 357 times the median employees pay. Dollar Tree, Walmart is on there, and GE. Lots of names we all know, lots of products we all use, and to see the kind of inequality happening within their pay scale is really quite shocking to most people.”

Delores Gray is a Cleveland grandmother
Delores Gray is a Cleveland grandmother who is helping to raise her two grandsons

Delores Gray is a Cleveland grandmother who is helping to raise her two grandsons and said she was stunned by the CEO report. Gray believes major Ohio employers need to make a greater financial commitment to the communities they serve and help working families.

"It's very appalling that this is happening," Gray said. “It’s a difficult situation, and it’s hard on families, and it’s hard on women, especially single mothers who have children.”

“My message to the CEOs is that they need compassion and understand what’s going on in the communities that they’re serving. You want people to be able to buy your products, you want people to work at your place, you need to pay people at a better wage than what they’re getting. And I think that they should be paying a higher tax themselves.”

Meanwhile, the City of San Francisco is responding to the CEO wage gap by enacting a new law in 2022. The measure will bill companies at a higher city tax rate if its CEO is making more than 100 times the average wage of company employees. San Francisco said it expects the new law to boost its general fund by some $60 to $140 million dollars annually.