NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — According to an AFL-CIO report, CEOs of the top 500 companies in the U.S. earned 324 times more money in 2021 than their employees, with average executive compensation climbing $2.8 million in the past year as worker wages declined.
The report found that real worker wages fell 2.4 percent in 2021 after adjusting for inflation, while the average compensation for the top CEOs in the nation last year was $18.3 million, an increase of more than $5 million over the past decade.
With a 324:1 ratio being the average between CEO and employee pay nationally, here is a look at how some Northwest Arkansas companies compare in that regard:
J.B. Hunt Transport Services
The Lowell-based transportation and logistics company rated better than the national average, thanks to higher-than-average median pay for its workers. The AFL-CIO report noted that the average employee salary there was $78,560, and the ratio checked in at 112:1.
The Springdale-based company and the world’s second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork doles out an annual salary of $40,136. The CEO-to worker pay ratio is 224:1, better than the national average.
The Bentonville-based retailer did not fare as well in these comparisons, with its workers averaging $25,335. That makes the CEO-to-employee pay ratio 1,031:1, a gap over three times larger than the U.S. average.
When asked to comment on the disparity, a spokesperson for Walmart noted that the retailer is a “pay-for-performance company,” and that it provides a “ladder of opportunity” to its many associates. Notably, Doug McMillon, Walmart’s President and CEO, began as an hourly employee for Walmart when he was just a teenager.
Additionally, nearly 75% of Walmart’s U.S. salaried store, club and supply chain management teams started as hourly associates. The average Walmart store manager earned $210,000 during the 2021 fiscal year.
The AFL-CIO report notes that U.S. workers’ wages fell behind inflation in 2021, rising only 4.7%. The report called the CEO pay disparity “a symptom of greedflation,” when companies increase prices to boost corporate profits.