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The List: How Much More Do New Jersey’s CEOs Earn Than Their Employees?

Hold onto your metaphoric hat: In 2017, the total compensation package for the CEO at the Children’s Place was 1,813 times more than the median wage for one of its workers

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During his campaign last year, Gov. Phil Murphy pledged he would raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. But with legislative leaders who voted for a $15 minimum wage two years ago now stalling, the state’s lowest-paid workers are getting $8.60 per hour this year, with no timeline for a substantial increase.

That current minimum wage will give a Garden State worker $17,888 this year. By contrast, New Jersey’s highest-paid New Jersey corporate executive got more than $29.8 million in total compensation in 2017, according to the AFL-CIO’s updated Executive Paywatch website. Based on a 40-hour work week, that equals $14,328.15 per hour.

Paywatch found the average chief executive of a company on the S&P 500 made more than $13.9 million last year, which works out to be 361 times the average nonsupervisory employee. That worker’s typical $38,613 annual salary, when adjusted for inflation, has been unchanged for more than 50 years.

“This year’s report provides further proof of America’s income inequality crisis,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler on unveiling the Paywatch database last month. “Too many working people are struggling to get by, to afford the basics, to save for college, to retire with dignity, while CEOs are paying themselves more and more.”

Shuler called for “raising wages for workers and reining in out-of-control executive pay.”

This is the first time companies have to disclose how CEO pay compares with that of the average worker, thanks to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulations law. The largest gap of any S&P 500 company was reported by Mattel, the toymaker. Its former CEO, Margo Georgiadis, made $31.3 million, while the median salary for a Mattel worker — including those working outside the United States – was $6,271. Georgiadis took the CEO spot at Ancestry.com in May.

Here are the 10 highest-paid New Jersey executives, and how their pay compared with that of the average worker, in 2017, according to Paywatch, as well as information about the company’s employment, according to NJ Business magazine.

1. Johnson and Johnson

CEO Alex Gorsky earned $29,802,564 in total compensation, 452 times higher than the median employee salary. The New Brunswick company employed 13,996 people in New Jersey last year, making it the state’s fifth-largest employer.

2. Prudential Financial

CEO John R. Strangfeld received $27,111,399 in total compensation, 268 times more than the median worker wage. The Newark firm employed 8,987 in the state last year, making it the 15th-largest employer in New Jersey.

3. Honeywell International

CEO David M. Cote received $20,955,539 in total compensation, 333 times higher than the median employee. The Morris Plains-based company was New Jersey’s 86th-largest employer, with 1,838 employees.

4. Merck and Co.

CEO Kenneth C. Frazier made $17,643,087 in total compensation, 215 times more than the median worker wage. The Kenilworth company employed 5,888 workers in New Jersey last year, making it the 27th-largest employer.

5. Bed Bath and Beyond

CEO Steven H. Temares earned $16,946,399 in total compensation, 438 times higher than the median employee salary. The Union company was the 26th-largest employer in the state, with 6,000 workers here.

6. Children’s Place

CEO Jane Elfers got $15,757,167 in total compensation last year, 1,813 times more than the median worker, the largest disparity on this list. The Secaucus company did not make NJ Business’s list of the 100 largest New Jersey employers.

7. Newell Brands

CEO Michael B. Polk received $15,257,808 in total compensation last year, 395 times higher than the median employee salary. The Hoboken company also was not one of New Jersey’s 100 largest companies.

8. Wyndham Worldwide Corp.

Chairman and CEO Stephen P. Holmes got $15,080,145 in total compensation last year, 398 times more than the median worker. The Parsippany company employed 2,176 workers in the state, making it the 76th largest.

9. Celgene

CEO Mark J. Alles received $13,115,985 in total compensation, 62 times higher than the median employee’s pay, the smallest disparity on the list. The Summit company was 57th largest in the state, employing 3,000 people.

10. Becton, Dickinson and Co.

CEO Vincent A. Forlenza received $13,058,840 in total compensation last year, 338 times higher than the median employee salary. The Franklin Lakes company tied for 78th largest in New Jersey, employing 2,100.

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