Chicago workers at public companies made 1.3% more on average last year, lifting the median wage to $68,262, according to data tracked by ISS Analytics. Compared to the median pay of CEOs at these firms, Chicago’s median pay ratio rose from 111 to 113.5 in 2018. That’s well above the nationwide median of 74, with a typical local CEO making 14.6% more than counterparts around the country. However, the opposite was true for median-paid workers at Chicago-based companies, who made nearly 20% less than the national median of $84,398, which rose faster last year than Chicago’s median. Part of the disparity is tied to the city’s disproportionate number of large firms that pay less, with more than 25% of Chicago’s public firms hiring lower-paid retail and/or foreign workers, compared to just one-seventh of the more than 3,500 public firms nationwide. Overall, CEO compensation at Chicago’s public companies rose less than 1% last year, but for CEOs getting raises (about two-thirds), median compensation was up 7.3%, which is less than the 9.8% gain in 2017, according to ISS. Most firms point out that much of CEO pay is volatile, with Caterpillar noting that nearly 90% of CEO Jim Umpleby’s gain was tied to “exceptional results” that included a 53% increase in operating profit. Other executives receive awards that pay out over several years and can skew current figures.
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