Politics

Executives receive one-third of all pay in the U.S.

wsjcharteditAccording to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Social Security Administration data, more than one-third of all pay in the U.S. now goes to executives and other highly-paid employees:

Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Social Security Administration data — without counting billions of dollars more in pay that remains off federal radar screens that measure wages and salaries. Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007, the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don’t include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted stock units and certain benefits.

Between 1979 and 2006, the inflation-adjusted after-tax income of the richest 1 percent of households increased by 256 percent, compared to 21 percent for families in the middle income quintile. Despite these numbers, Democratic leaders, “bowing to unease among lawmakers and governors in their own party,” are reconsidering the House Ways and Means committee’s proposal to implement a surtax on the richest one percent of Americans as a way of financing a portion of health care reform. The Wonk Room has more.