Sklar, Holly


Holly Sklar's books include "Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies That Work for All of Us," "A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future" and "Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood."

CEOs to Workers: More for Me, Less for You

By Holly Sklar

Big company CEOs got a 23 percent raise last year and corporate profits are at record highs. But the minimum wage has less buying power now than in 1956 - the year Elvis Presley first topped the charts, videotape was breakthrough technology and the Dow closed above 500 for the very first time.

It’s no accident wages are down while corporate profits are up. As JPMorgan’s July 11 "Eye on the Market" newsletter put it, "Reductions in wages and benefits explain the majority of the net improvement in [profit] margins - US labor compensation is now at a 50-year low relative to both company sales and US GDP."

The minimum wage sets the floor under wages, and that floor is sinking. The 1956 minimum wage was $8.30, adjusted for inflation.

Today’s minimum wage is $7.25 - just $15,080 annually.

CEOs make more in a few hours than minimum wage workers who care for children, the ill and the elderly make in a year. Median CEO pay was $10.8 million last year among 200 big companies measured by Equilar.