As American workers navigate an uncertain job market, one characterized by side hustles and temp gigs, positions at big corporations shine with a special luster.
As American workers navigate an uncertain job market, one characterized by side hustles and temp gigs, positions at big corporations shine with a special luster. Blue-chip companies promise generous benefits, cushy expense accounts and job security, not to mention hefty salaries.
But in a fast-changing labor economy, even that stereotype is fading. For the first time, publicly traded companies must disclose how much they pay rank-and-file workers -- and many of the numbers are underwhelming.
At Citigroup, the Wall Street giant with more than $1 trillion in assets, the median wage in 2017 was a pedestrian $48,249, the company says in a regulatory filing. At Berkshire Hathaway, the investor darling run by billionaire Warren Buffett, the typical salary was $53,510. Tech stalwart IBM reports median pay of $54,491. Rivals Coca-Cola and PepsiCo both pay their typical employee less than $48,000.
Those are living wages, but they’re not Mercedes money. A mid-career teacher in a public school system could expect to make about as much.
The Palm Beach Post analyzed public filings for more than 100 companies that had disclosed pay as of March 29, including such household names as Allstate (median pay: $81,573), AT&T ($78,437) , Bank of America ($87,115), Ford Motor ($87,783) and Pfizer ($89,206).
The median of the median is the $72,433 paid by United Technologies, the Connecticut-based parent of Pratt & Whitney, Otis elevator and UTC Climate.
Two trends are clear: Corporate paychecks are all over the map, in part because big companies have scattered their workers across the globe. And six-figure salaries are rare at Florida-based companies.
Fully 27 companies reported median wages of less than $50,000, although those employers had large numbers of workers with such low-paying job descriptions as retail clerk, farmworker and prison guard.
Kohl’s, the Wisconsin-based department store chain, said its typical worker made just $8,976 last year. Under Amour says its median employee is a part-timer making $10,686.
Publix said the median employee at Florida’s dominant supermarket chain made $19,531. When the Lakeland-based grocer counted only full-time employees, median pay topped $40,000.
Critics look at the modest pay and see the disappearance of a once-reliable path to the middle class.
“The biggest firms used to offer good career ladders,” said Gerald Davis, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, professor of Sociology, and author of the book The Vanishing American Corporation. “Now, big corporations are a bunch of grocery stores and Home Depot.”