Executive Excess 2001: Layoffs, Tax Rebates, and the Gender Gap

For eight years, the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy have tracked the growing divide between CEO pay and workers pay. No set of statistics better sums up the swift flight from fairness that characterized what many now call the “decade of greed” in this country.

Never over these years, however, has there been such a blatant pattern of CEOs benefiting at the expense of their workers as the year 2000. That year witnessed the beginning of economic slowdown after almost a solid decade of rapid growth. And, as firms began massive layoffs at mid-year, a trend which has

accelerated in the first half of 2001, firms still gave healthy raises to CEOs. Our calculations demonstrate that, on average, CEOs at firms that excelled in layoffs were rewarded with larger pay packages than those who did not lay off workers.

This study offers five vantage points on the CEO-worker divide. First, we sum up the trends of the past “decade of greed.” Second, we study the fortunes of CEOs at 52 U.S. firms that announced layoffs of 1,000 or more workers in the first half of this year. Third, we examine the relationship between corporate tax rebates and CEO pay hikes. Fourth, we look at the fate of female executives during an era of a slow narrowing of the gender gap among ordinary workers. Finally, we chronicle the spreading efforts by citizen groups to close the gap.

The Institute for Policy Studies is an independent center for progressive research and education founded in Washington, DC in 1963. IPS scholar-activists are dedicated to providing politicians, journalists, academics and activists with exciting policy ideas that can make real change possible.
United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan organization founded in 1994 to focus public attention and action on economic inequality in the United States—and the implications of inequality on American life and labor. United for a Fair Economy provides educational resources, works with grassroots organizations and supports creative and legislative action to reduce inequality.