The Biggest CEO-Worker Pay Gaps in America


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Workers at many big-name companies are fighting to unionize, which is quite unsurprising when you consider the enormous CEO-worker pay gaps at many large companies. According to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, CEO compensation has increased by 940% since 1978 while worker pay increased a mere 12% during that same period. Read on if you dare, because you might find yourself just as shocked as the employees. Here’s a look at some of the biggest pay gaps in America.  

Related: 30 Ways Your Employer Could Be Cheating You

Jeff Bezos
David Ryder/Getty Images


The pay difference between CEOs and their workers is based on data from Bloomberg. CEO pay is compared to median employee pay and considers both full and part-time workers worldwide. Companies with many international workers often have much lower median pays for their employees. CEO-worker ratios and pay rates are based on company reports for the S&P 500 and Russell 1000 members based on filings as of Feb. 3, 2023, with most companies currently reporting earnings for mid- to late 2022. 

Related: 30 Lies That Bosses Tell Employees



CEO Pay: $212.7 million 

Median Worker Pay: $32,855

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 6,474:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +12,546.9%

Why the Pay Change? Online shoppers flocked to Amazon amid the pandemic leading to a 220% increase in profits. The CEO, Andy Jassy, got a massive pay increase, much of which comes “in the form of stock options that will vest over 10 years” when he replaced Jeff Bezos as the CEO. When Jeff Bezos was the CEO the year prior, his pay was approximately $1.7 million. It isn’t uncommon for new CEOs to receive additional incentives at the start of their terms.  Meanwhile the pay increase for an average worker was 13.3% — higher than for many companies, but still paling in comparison to the CEO's. 

Related: Amazon Slapped With Nearly $30,000 in Fines for Allegedly Failing to Report Injuries

NuSkin by UtahStizzle (CC BY)

Nu Skin Enterprises

CEO Pay: $6.6 million  

Median Worker Pay: $1,339

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 4,956:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +45.2%

Why the Pay Change? The average worker's pay decreased by 64.9% while the CEO’s increased substantially. Nu Skin Enterprises is a multi-level marketing (MLM) skin and beauty company, which many people consider a predatory business model. Many people work for MLM companies as a side hustle with the lowest tier members earning significantly less than higher tier members.

Western Digital Corp.
Wikimedia Commons

Western Digital Corp.

CEO Pay: $32.1 million

Median Worker Pay: $9,644

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 3,332:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +88%

Why the Pay Change? Like many tech companies, Western Digital Corp. has experienced growth in recent years. The earnings per share have increased 110% in the last three years. This led to an 88% increase in CEO David Goeckele’s pay from 2021 to 2022. At the same time the company had a worker pay decrease of 14.6%. While the company has multiple U.S. based offices in California, there are also many international office locations which contribute to low worker pay.

Discovery Media
Discovery Media by faceless b (CC BY)


CEO Pay: $246.6 million 

Median Worker Pay: $82,964

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,972:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +553.9%

Why the Pay Change? Workers got a higher-than-average pay boost of 24.4%, however, the percent increase for the media giant's CEO, David Zaslav, was much larger by comparison. The driving force of the CEO increase was a generous stock options package designed to keep him on through a merger with Warner Media.

Expedia Group
Wikimedia Commons

Expedia Group

CEO Pay: $296.2 million 

Median Worker Pay: $102,270

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,897:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +6,952.4%

Why the Pay Change? Post-pandemic travel has exploded leading to increased bookings and revenue for companies. Although employee pay is quite high, the gap is still one of the largest in the country. It is worth noting that CEO Peter Kern’s pay package is spread out from February 2021 to April 2024, but still.

Mattel Corporate Headquarters Building


CEO Pay: $16.1 million 

Median Worker Pay: $5,963

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,705:1 

CEO Pay Change Percent: +3.2% 

Why the Pay Change? When looking at the CEO-to-worker pay gap, it might be shocking to learn that toy company Mattel’s CEO pay raise didn’t even keep up with inflation. However, considering a salary of $16.1 million, it probably isn’t too much of a hardship. Low worker pay is related to the fact that Mattel has office locations worldwide including in many lower cost of living countries. 

Dutch headquarters of multinational staffing firm ManpowerGroup. Manpower group sign and logo at the top of the building
Milos Ruzicka/istockphoto


CEO Pay: $18.8 million 

Median Worker Pay: $8,022

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,342:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +57.8% 

Why the Pay Change? Manpower Group is a staffing and recruitment agency. As job openings increased after the pandemic, these types of agencies jumped to increase their revenue by filling the open roles. CEO Jonas Prising had a large pay increase while worker pay increased 28.1%. The low worker pay is contributed to by the fact that ManpowerGroup has office locations worldwide.

White letters logo on Skechers shop
Lubo Ivanko/istockphoto

Skechers U.S.A.

CEO Pay: $24 million 

Median Worker Pay: $10,586

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,265:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: 18.3%

Why the Pay Change? Compared to most CEOs, Skechers’ CEO had a modest pay raise after several good years of revenue. Meanwhile, the average employee pay increased by 48.2%. Overall pay is lower than the U.S. average since there are many international locations.

T.J. Maxx Retail Store Location. T.J Maxx is a discount retail chain featuring stylish brand-name apparel, shoes and accessories

The TJX Companies

CEO Pay: $31.8 million 

Median Worker Pay: $14,139

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,249:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: 118.7%

Why the Pay Change? After a 23.8% pay cut in 2020, TJX's CEO pay came roaring back as the economy reopened and people were on the hunt for a bargain. TJX company includes well-known department store brands like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Homegoods, which often offer lower prices than their competitors. Although the company experienced a hit from rising prices, it adjusted its pricing to exceed expected profits in 2022. Employee pay, however, barely kept pace with inflation. TJX employs people worldwide and also presumably has many part-time or even seasonal employees given the nature of the work.

KFC Chicken restaurant. Kentucky Fried Chicken is offering Uber and Door Dash delivery and drive thru service.

Yum! Brands

CEO Pay: $27.6 million 

Median Worker Pay: $13,082

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,108:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +88.5%

Why the Pay Change? Yum! Brands is the parent company of major fast-food chains like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. CEO David Gibbs received several performance-based bonuses to the tune of $15 million despite the objections of shareholders.

Jabil sign on the building at their headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA.


CEO Pay: $16.4 million 

Median Worker Pay: $146,990

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 2,021:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +7.3%

Why the Pay Change? Manufacturing company Jabil produces products for everything from appliances to automotive safety technology to healthcare diagnostic equipment and just about everything in between. CEO Mark Mondello received a 7.3% raise in 2022 while worker pay averages $146,990. 

Aptiv Technical Center. Aptiv provides vehicle electrical systems and advanced driving software.


CEO Pay: $14.7 million 

Median Worker Pay: $7,042

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,992:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: -52.8%

Why the Pay Change? The automotive technology company had one of the largest CEO-Worker pay ratios in 2021 at 5,294:1. While it appears there was a decrease in CEO pay in 2022, Aptiv has previously been accused of skewing the data to make its pay gap appear less terrible, so it’s unclear if one can really trust these numbers. 

Moscow, Russia, May 8, 2019. Coca-Cola advertising on the roof of a building in the city center
Georgiy Datsenko/istockphoto


CEO Pay: $24.9 million 

Median Worker Pay: $13,894

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,791:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +35.4%

Why the Pay Change? To combat rising prices, Coca-Cola raised the prices of its beverages in 2021. It seems the increase had the desired effect as worker pay also increased by 22.5%. The average may seem low because it is based on compensation for both U.S. and international workers. 

Related: Fun and Little-Known Facts About Coca-Cola

Cruise Ship Downtown Port of Miami Florida Travel Destinations USA
Lorraine Boogich/istockphoto

Carnival Corp.

CEO Pay: $15.1 million 

Median Worker Pay: $8,658

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,740:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +13.2%

Why the Pay Change? After the dismal years of the pandemic for cruise lines, it does seem a pay raise is in order. Carnival’s CEO pay raise is modest compared to most, however, the total compensation still overshadows average worker pay which pay dropped by 68.1% in 2021 likely due to the cruise ship shutdowns resulting from the pandemic. 

Intel Headquarters


CEO Pay: $178.6 million 

Median Worker Pay: $104,400

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,711:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +697.7%

Why the Pay Change? After a dramatic pay raise, Intel announced at the beginning of February 2023 that top executives, including CEO Pat Gelsinger, would have a 25% cut to their base salaries. The reason cited was poor fourth-quarter performance in 2022. Since most CEO compensation comes in the form of stock options, his total decrease is only about $312,000. Meanwhile, the company is also cutting benefit levels to the tune of tens of millions overall for lower-paid employees. “Intel’s share price has fallen over 50% since Feb. 2021, which was Gelsinger’s first month as CEO,” according to CNBC so some may question the pay increase.

Victoria's Secret store at Bologna interational airport

L Brands

CEO Pay: $17.7 million 

Median Worker Pay: $10,632

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,662:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: -4.5%

Why the Pay Change? L Brands, the parent company of brands like Bath & Body Works, Lane Bryant, and Victoria’s Secret, reduced its CEO pay by 4.5% while also increasing worker pay by 7.7%. The total median pay is based on a worldwide workforce of both full and part time employees. Like many companies, 2022 was a poor year for L Brands stocks, which may play a role in the pay cut, however slight.

Lear Corp.
Wikimedia Commons

Lear Corp.

CEO Pay: $13.3 million

Median Worker Pay: $8,106

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,642:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: -9.6%

Why the Pay Change? Given the rising prices of cars, it is somewhat surprising to see pay decreases for both the CEO and worldwide employees at the automotive seating and electrical company, Lear. However, Lear’s CEO pay has been on the decline since 2020. Closing auto plants are likely a factor for the decrease.

Hands holding transparent aligners. Invisalign orthodontics concept
lma is/istockphoto

Align Technology

CEO Pay: $21.6 million 

Median Worker Pay: $13,011

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,659:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +39.1%

Why the Pay Change? Health care is big business, and Align, which produces 3D digital scanners and Invisalign clear dental aligners, is no exception. With a total revenue of $3.95 billion, one would think they could pay their employees a reasonable wage, though. Instead, worker pay just barely kept up with inflation with an 8.8% increase across full and part-time workers worldwide.

Wikimedia Commons


CEO Pay: $11 million 

Median Worker Pay: $7,055

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,564:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +51.4%

Why the Pay Change? Despite a large pay increase recently, the Hanesbrands CEO may be in for a pay decrease soon. Company sales fell 16% in the fourth quarter of 2022, and its CEO pay was reported when it  last filed in March 2022. The median worker pay accounts for both full and part time workers in all of Hanesbrands domestic and international locations.

The Blizzard Entertainment campus is seen on July 9, 2022 in Irvine, California, USA.

Activision Blizzard

CEO Pay: $154.6 million 

Median Worker Pay: $99,100

CEO-Worker Pay Ratio: 1,560:1

CEO Pay Change Percent: +413.3%

Why the Pay Change? The CEO salary for this video game company increased much more than for many other companies. Video game fans were reportedly enraged in early 2021 when the CEO received a $200 million bonus as dozens of employees were simultaneously laid off.