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According to President Trump, we are living in “the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job.”
The details reveal something a little different. While unemployment may be low, workers are experiencing historically low wage growth, while companies are responding to Trump’s recent tax cut by routing their profits predominantly to top executives and big shareholders in the form of stock buybacks.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of how 1,111 companies pay their workers released Wednesday morning illustrates this in stark terms. While “median pay lies between about $44,000 and $95,000 for about half of the 1,111 companies in the S&P 1,500 index that have disclosed median employee pay,” zooming into specific large companies that have been actively padding the wallets of their largest shareholders through stock buyback programs reveals that the true priority here is not sustainable long-term raises for middle-class workers.
The Journal’s Theo Francis and Yaryna Serkez found that “employing low-wage workers directly drags median pay down. Median pay at McDonald’s was much lower, at $7,017, in part because McDonald’s directly employs hourly servers at more of its restaurants.” The low median pay at McDonald’s comes as the fast-food behemoth bought back $1.6 billion in stock in the first quarter of 2018 alone.
“At Walmart, with 2.3 million workers, half made less than $19,177,” the Francis and Serkez found. Late last year, Walmart launched a stock buyback initiative to the tune of $20 billion in order to boost its stock prices, which disproportionately enriches the biggest stockholders in the company.
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