COLUMBIA, Mo. — This morning, USA Today reported that the
After U.S. corporations got a big tax cut in December, a flurry of announcements touting bonuses and pay raises for hourly employees raised hopes that the cash windfall would keep flowing down to American workers.
But the sharing of wealth hasn’t been as generous as hoped.
…The number of companies letting workers know they are getting a bonus, raise or other form of financial compensation has slowed to a trickle. Most of the extra cash from tax savings is going into the pockets of stock shareholders through dividend increases and companies buying back their own stock in hopes of boosting its price.
…The amount of money benefiting shareholders has been sizable.
In the first three months of 2018, for example, investors received $109.2 billion in dividends, up more than 8% from the $100.9 billion received in the same period a year earlier, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. In fact, the S&P 500’s quarterly dividend payments set a new record.
Similarly, J.P. Morgan estimates that U.S. companies could buy back as much as $800 billion of their own stock this year, up from $527 billion last year. The sharp rise in share repurchases, according to the bank, is due in large part to the benefits from tax cuts.
…This use of cash benefits the wealthy and company shareholders, rather than middle-class workers. A sizable 84% of all stocks owned by Americans are held by the wealthiest 10% of households, according to recent research by New York University economics professor Edward Wolff.
“Old habits run deep,” says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUGF, a financial services firm with offices in New York. “I would be surprised if much of the corporate tax cut money ends up in workers’ pockets.”
…The mismatch between what workers are getting and what investors are receiving continues to be a heated debate.
…[Americans for Tax Fairness’] data, culled from corporate news releases, media reports, analysts and its own research, show that only 6.3 million workers are getting a one-time bonus or pay hike tied to the cuts. That compares with a total U.S. workforce of 155.2 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ATF analysis shows 126 companies have received $60.8 billion in total tax cuts, which it claims is nine times more than the $6.5 billion workers have received in bonuses and pay increases. Corporations, their data show, have spent 37 times more on stock buybacks than worker bonuses or raises since the law was enacted.
“President Trump and Republicans gave huge tax cuts to big drug companies, big oil and other corporations, but corporations are giving back little – if anything – to working families,” says Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness.