$96,000 a Day and the Great Disconnect

Chuck Sheketoff

$96,000 a day.

That’s Nike CEO and president Mark Parker’s compensation, according to the newest list of executive pay at publicly owned companies in Oregon published by the Portland Business Journal on newsstands now (online version article and list only available to subscribers).

While Parker’s $35.2 million in annual compensation tops the list, Nike employees in total hold five of the 10 top slots. Oregon’s other Fortune 500 company, Precision Castparts, holds the number 2 slot and two others in the top 10.

The article notes the disconnect between CEO compensation and workers and the economy:

Many public company executives took pay cuts after the 2008 economic crash. Although sales have bounced back slowly, executive pay has rebounded more quickly. The median sales increase last year for companies represented by the state’s 20 highest-paid executives: 16 percent. The median raise: 24 percent.

“I would dare say the employees didn’t get 24 percent raises,” said Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of Westerville, Ohio-based the Value Alliance, which consults on CEO pay. “What you have is this continuing disconnect between what everybody that contributes to share price gets and what top executives get.”

Income inequality has soared over the past few decades in Oregon, and one of the key drivers of inequality nationally has been the growth of chief executive officer earnings.

Parker’s $96,000 daily compensation was twice the annual compensation of the typical (median) Oregon household ($46,816) in 2011.

I should note that much of his compensation — about $20.5 million in stock — has strings attached: To get the stock Parker has to stay in his job for five years.

The typical Oregonian, of course, is looking for job security and can’t demand a handsome sum to commit to stay in his or her job.

Yes, we live in the age of the Great Disconnect.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

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    I'll see your discontent and raise you another 14 months and $108,000.

    In the midst of a campaign season where the GOP protagonists are insisting on Social Security "reform," top earners barely get into their second day of the year before they've topped out their FICA. The middle management guy who brings home that annual $108k and Mark Parker are investing like amounts into the system.

    But instead of the simple, logical fix of just bumping that $108k ceiling to $175k or even $150k, we get a song and dance about "personalization" options, and my other favorite, bumping up not the ceiling, but the retirement age.

    Look, I already feel like the greyhound chasing the track rabbit, because my finish line is now somewhere closer to 66 and 1/2 than it is to 65. But some of these well quaffed pundits are yammering about the retirement age at 75 and 80 (80?!)

    There's a disconnect for you - the GOP will raise a stinkfest at the mere suggestion of a robust FICA cap increase, (how many tailored shirts will you really be denied at this horror, Mr. Parker?) But that landscaper who manicures the grounds should be expected to put in another decade or so setting sprinklers and yanking out rootwads.

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    Carla -- nice observation. And why should the FICA be capped at any level? Any cap makes it even more regressive, especially as people game the system by turning wages into specially treated in the tax code cap gains.

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    Direct your ire here: Nike, Inc. Compensation Committee – Timothy D. Cook (chair), Elizabeth J. Comstock, John C. Lechleiter and Johnathan A. Rodgers

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    I am with you, Chuck - you are EXACTLY right of course. At the very least, the conversation should begin at the "no-cap". I find it disconcerting that moving - or even slightly nudging - the cap never even seems to be discussed in the big media pundit circles, but they are willing to blast the age qualification through the silver-haired roof. My bricklayer dad could barely move after he hit 70, and he didn't make it past 74.

    Maybe that's it, these yuks figure that Social Security may remain solvent - and lightly used - if all our jobs and careers outlive us!

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    I applaud Phil Knight philanthropy and his love for his Alma Mater, but at the expense of exploiting overseas workers and failing to provide a living wage at the bottom of the scale is sickening. Nike really gives capitalism a bad name.

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