BUSINESS
09/18/2014 09:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Which Industry's CEOs Are Ripping Off Workers Most?

If American income inequality had a poster child, it would be the fast food industry.

Today, CEOs at leading fast food companies pocket more than 1,200 times more than their average employees, according to a report by Demos, an economic policy think tank. In comparison, the average CEO at S&P 500 companies today makes about 200 times more than typical employees.

It hasn't always been this way. Back in 1950, CEOs took home about 20 times as much money as their average workers. Take a look at how CEO-to-worker pay ratios have changed across industries since 2000.

Infographic by Alissa Scheller for The Huffington Post

"It's true in many industries but fast food is the primary example: The gains from economic growth are being entirely awarded to people at the top of the income scale," Catherine Ruetschlin, author of the Demos report cited in the graphic, told HuffPost in April. "It's not a surprising finding that it's the worst industry within the worst sector."

There are many reasons the pay gap in the fast food industry is so wide. One reason is that the fast food industry has created jobs at a faster rate than other industries for more than a decade, and for the most part these jobs don't pay well. Because the federal minimum wage is so low and hasn't been raised since 2009, worker pay has stagnated while executives have received huge boosts in compensation.

In 2013, fast food CEOs made about four times more than they did in 2000, according to the Demos report. In the same 2000-2013 period, worker pay rose only about .3 percent when adjusted for inflation. The average fast food worker took home about $19,000 in 2013.

And even while making such low wages, nine out of 10 fast food workers have been victims of wage theft, like having to work off-the-clock, not being paid for overtime work, or having managers falsify time sheets, according to a study by Hart Research.

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