Special Report

The Film Business Pays CEOs 6 Times the Average Industry Pay, and Jobs With Even Bigger Gaps

July Alcantara / E+ via Getty Images

Amidst failed negotiations over compensation and other concerns, the Hollywood writers’ strike passed the 100-day mark on Aug. 9. (See the most significant strikes in Hollywood history.)

One factor fueling tensions between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is the outsized pay of Hollywood CEOs, which surged in 2021 and preceded a record-setting wave of layoffs across the media industry.

The film business is one of many industries where CEOs grossly outearn the average worker. To determine the industries with the most overpaid CEOs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on annual mean wage for CEOs and all workers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program. Detailed industries were ranked based on the ratio of annual mean wage for chief executives to annual mean wage for all workers as of May 2022.

While motion picture and video has the 12th highest CEO-to-all workers pay ratio of any industry, a bulk of the industries with largest pay disparities are in manufacturing, waste management, or accommodation and food services.

In the animal slaughtering and processing industry, for example — where workers are often subjected to unsafe and harmful conditions with few benefits and little job security — the average chief executive earns 8.7 times the average worker, the second highest ratio of any industry. (But all these are industry averages and at the company level some CEOs are paid even more. These are CEOs of major U.S. companies who are paid 1,000 times more than their employees.)

The industry with the highest CEO-to-all workers pay ratio is casino hotels, where chief executives oversee multibillion-dollar hotel chains with thousands of low-wage gambling and hospitality workers. The average casino hotel chief executive earns 9.2 more than the average casino hotel worker, the largest disparity of any industry. 

CEO pay may also be a matter of scale, where industries with larger companies tend to have higher CEO pay relative to the average worker. In 20 of the 25 industries where CEOs outearn workers the most, the average company size is greater than the national average of 15.8 employees.

Click here to see the film business pays CEOs 6 times the average industry pay.

25. Warehousing and Storage
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.3
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $253,390
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $47,490
> Total employment: 1,901,610

[in-text-ad]

24. Automobile Dealers
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.3
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $323,960
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $60,600
> Total employment: 1,252,700

23. Waste Collection
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.4
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $274,660
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $51,210
> Total employment: 201,690

22. Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.4
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $280,870
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $52,270
> Total employment: 168,480

[in-text-ad-2]

21. Employment Services
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.4
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $275,300
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $50,910
> Total employment: 3,926,230

20. Special Food Services
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.5
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $214,310
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $38,690
> Total employment: 636,880

[in-text-ad]

19. Building Material and Supplies Dealers
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.5
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $222,510
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $40,140
> Total employment: 1,238,850

18. Facilities Support Services
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.6
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $282,950
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $50,950
> Total employment: 172,930

17. Sawmills and Wood Preservation
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.6
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $255,060
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $45,660
> Total employment: 91,130

[in-text-ad-2]

16. Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.6
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $333,190
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $59,360
> Total employment: 139,280

15. Temporary Help Services
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.6
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $271,660
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $48,110
> Total employment: 3,168,790

[in-text-ad]

14. Electric Lighting Equipment Manufacturing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.7
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $346,200
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $61,050
> Total employment: 39,820

13. Sugar and Confectionery Product Manufacturing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.7
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $268,950
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $46,820
> Total employment: 79,260

12. Motion Picture and Video Industries
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.8
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $498,970
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $86,060
> Total employment: 417,620

[in-text-ad-2]

11. Traveler Accommodation
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 5.9
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $232,460
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $39,730
> Total employment: 1,687,670

10. Fruit and Vegetable Preserving and Specialty Food Manufacturing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 6.0
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $292,550
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $48,470
> Total employment: 172,390

[in-text-ad]

9. Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 6.1
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $423,760
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $69,740
> Total employment: 318,080

8. Gambling Industries
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 6.2
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $254,480
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $41,210
> Total employment: 201,540

7. Clothing and Clothing Accessories Retailers
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 6.6
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $242,710
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $37,000
> Total employment: 854,530

[in-text-ad-2]

6. Automotive Equipment Rental and Leasing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 7.0
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $305,200
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $43,800
> Total employment: 191,300

5. Miscellaneous Store Retailers
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 7.0
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $255,010
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $36,190
> Total employment: 403,740

[in-text-ad]

4. Bakeries and Tortilla Manufacturing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 7.7
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $318,140
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $41,540
> Total employment: 319,010

3. Cut and Sew Apparel Manufacturing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 8.1
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $391,410
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $48,550
> Total employment: 72,770

2. Animal Slaughtering and Processing
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 8.7
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $360,840
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $41,570
> Total employment: 520,970

[in-text-ad-2]

1. Casino Hotels
> Ratio of chief executives pay to all workers pay: 9.2
> Avg. annual pay for chief executives: $379,720
> Avg. annual pay for all workers: $41,200
> Total employment: 303,800

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.