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Part 1: Philadelphia’s ‘1%’

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(Protesters at "Occupy Philadelphia."  File photo by John McDevitt)

(Protesters at “Occupy Philadelphia.” File photo by John McDevitt)

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Regional Affairs Council - February 2012

KYW Regional Affairs Council

“Princes & Paupers”

.

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  The “Occupy” movement has called attention to the growing disparity between the richest one percent of Americans and the rest of us.

But who are the “one percent” in the Philadelphia region?

When Occupy Philadelphia wanted to protest income inequality, they marched to the headquarters building of Comcast Corporation.  CEO Brian Roberts is the highest paid executive in Philadelphia, taking home an estimated $31 million. That’s more than 500 times the average salary in the region.

“I think that the Comcast Tower is probably the best example of the issues raised by Occupy Wall Street and the intersection of those issues in Philadelphia,” one demonstrator told KYW Newsradio on the day of the march and sit-in (see related news story).

roberts brian getty side Part 1:  Philadelphias 1%

(Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, in file photo. Credit: John W. Ferguson/ Getty Images)

Roberts (right) declined a request for an interview, as did CEOs from Cigna, Sunoco, Ametek, the Philadelphia Eagles, and other area corporations.

But you don’t have to make millions, as those folks do, to be in the one percent in the Philadelphia region.  According to an analysis by Temple University, annual income of just $422,000 gets you into that elite group.  That’s higher than the national average — which means the “one percent” here are richer than elsewhere.

But that doesn’t bother Philadelphia AFL-CIO president Pat Eiding.  What does bother him is when the income of CEOs climbs even as they cut jobs and their workers’ pay stagnates.

eiding side  loeb Part 1:  Philadelphias 1%

(Pat Eiding. Credit: Pat Loeb)

“We work hard,” Eiding (right) says of the people he represents, “and when you work hard you should be compensated.  And it should be fair.  And so if you want to make a million dollars, or five million or thirty, God bless you. But at least let me be in the median somewhere.”

Eiding is not alone. A new federal law requires that companies disclose not only the CEO’s pay but also the average salaries of employees, to show the level of disparity, in hopes that companies will want to narrow it.

“You can’t have that disparity — it’s not fair, it’s not right. There’s something wrong with that,” Eiding notes.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the CEO of CBS, which owns KYW, made $57 million in the most recent year reported.  That’s roughly 900 times my salary.

Listen to the podcast…

Read the Congressional Budget Office report, “Trends in the Distribution of Household Income
Between 1979 and 2007″ (.pdf format)

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