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Pandemic pay cuts: The growing list of companies reducing salaries during COVID-19

Conference Board has been tracking pay reduction announcements for publicly traded companies.

Pandemic pay cuts: The growing list of companies reducing salaries during COVID-19
[Photo: Lukas/Pexels; Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash]

More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since the economy first began to unravel due to the coronavirus pandemic. That figure may not count untold millions of freelancers or self-employed individuals who are also out of work, nor does it factor in countless people who simply couldn’t get through to their state labor department to file a claim. And of those who are still working, many are making considerably less money due to reduced hours.

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And then there are the company-imposed pay cuts. Over the past few weeks, the Conference Board has been tracking pay reduction announcements for publicly traded companies, using SEC filings by firms listed in the Russell 3000 Index.

Some the findings may surprise you: For instance, the salary reductions are not just hitting top executives and their fat bonuses. At last count, 61% of the affected companies applied pay reductions to the base salaries of senior managers who make less than top-tier executives, the Conference Board says. It adds that 11% of all companies in the index announced base pay cuts between March 1 and April 24.

The good news is, the announcements peaked in early April and have declined a bit in recent weeks. The bad news? The group anticipates a “second wave” of salary reductions could emerge in the weeks ahead as the ripple effects of COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc on bottom lines.

The Conference Board posted the insights in a new report that also includes a wealth of data visualizations and the full list of companies. It says the list will be updated weekly as long as the crisis continues. The data is being compiled in collaboration with consulting firm Semler Brossy and Esgauge Analytics. It shows that the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus are what you would expect, including retail and hospitality.

[Screenshot via Conference Board]
You can check out the full report here.

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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