The gap between what workers make and what CEOs make widened in 2018 at some of the largest companies headquartered in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area.
The CEO to median worker pay ratio was an average of 126-to-1 at 10 publicly reporting local firms for which information was available. A year ago — the first time most companies were required to report the ratio — the average was 120-to-1 at those same companies.
The CEO pay ratio compares a CEO’s total compensation with that of the median worker at his or her company. It has its roots in the Dodd-Frank financial reforms that became law in 2010, although disclosure was not mandated until 2018.
The measure has been controversial.
Proponents say it provides greater transparency for investors and will put a stronger focus on income inequality, a social issue that’s capturing increased attention.
Critics say the pay ratio imposes expensive bookkeeping requirements and is misleading, because there are many ways to determine the “median” employee and it’s left up to each company to choose how they will identify that worker.
The pay ratio averaged 152-to-1 at 1,308 companies nationwide that had reported information as of April 22, according to Main Data Group and Pearl Meyer, an executive compensation consultancy. That’s slightly higher than the average 144-to-1 ratio for the 2,005 public companies that disclosed their ratios last year.
The pay ratio is one of several issues investors watch closely at publicly traded companies. The St. Pete Catalyst is publishing a series of reports in the next few days looking at some of those issues with a focus on companies in the Tampa-St. Pete metro area that publicly report their financial information, are traded on a major stock exchange and have a market capitalization of $100 million or more.
For most workers, their hourly wage or a salary makes up the bulk of their pay. CEOs usually get stock awards and options on top of their salaries, but the stock awards don’t always translate into cash right away.
Companies with a lot of overseas workers or part-time employees generally reported higher CEO pay ratios.
At Jabil Inc. (NYSE: JBL), a St. Petersburg-based electronics manufacturing services firm, CEO Mark Mondello’s 2018 compensation was $11.4 million, or 2,238 times the $5,091 paid to the median worker last year. Jabil also added some context in its pay ratio disclosure, saying it included 129,125 workers in its analysis and more than 94 percent of them are located outside the United States. The company said it annually conducts pay analysis to ensure it is competitive with local market conditions.
A better measure of what Jabil pays workers locally emerged in May 2017 when Jabil unveiled plans to construct a new world headquarters at its current location, at Roosevelt Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street North. Documents filed with the City Council said Jabil’s average wage in St. Petersburg was $96,000 before benefits.
Publix Super Markets Inc., which reports its financial information publicly although its stock is owned only by its employees, reported two CEO pay ratios. CEO Todd Jones’ pay package was $2.6 million in 2018, or 127 times that of the median worker, who made $20,383. Publix considered all of its employees, whether they were full-time, part-time or seasonal, in determining the median worker.
The company gave a separate CEO pay ratio of 63-to-1 for its median full-time worker, who made $40,818 last year.
Year to year changes
There are 10 local companies that have reported the CEO pay ratio for two years now, so it’s possible to see how median worker pay has changed year over year, a measure never previously reported before.
For those 10 companies, the median worker made an average of $48,391 last year, up 4.5 percent from 2017.
At the same time, their CEOs had 2018 pay packages averaging $4.78 million, up 19.3 percent from a year earlier.
There are handful of local companies whose fiscal year doesn’t coincide with the calendar year. For them, 2019 was the first year the pay ratio disclosure was required. That includes Jabil, Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF), Bloomin’ Brands (Nasdaq: BLMN), and MarineMax (NYSE: HZO).
Not every company has to report a CEO pay ratio. Regulators don’t require the disclosure for small, “emerging growth” companies. Companies that were not required to report include Heritage Insurance Holdings (NYSE: HRTG); Apyx Medical (Nasdaq: APYX); AquaVenture (NYSE: WAAS); and Health Insurance Innovations (Nasdaq: HIIQ).