Poll: Americans Believe Top Managers Make More Than They Deserve

DETROIT (WWJ) – As the Occupy Wall Street protests continue and move across the country, anger at corporate America seems to be growing.

Seven in ten Americans (69 percent) believe most top company managers make more than they deserve in salaries and all other benefits, according to poll by Harris Interactive. The poll also found that three in ten Americans (29 percent) say they make about what they deserve and two percent believe they make less than they deserve.

Not surprisingly, there is a partisan difference as three-quarter of Democrats (76 percent) and seven in ten Independents (71 percent) believe these top managers make more than they deserve compared to 59 percent of Republicans.

It’s not just the fact that company leaders are paid more, it’s who the money is coming at the expense of that seems to be a concern.

Four in five Americans (80 percent) agree that top company managers have become rich at the expense of ordinary workers, with almost half (47 percent) strongly agreeing. Again there is a partisan divide as nine in ten Democrats (89 percent) agree compared to seven in ten Republicans (69 percent).

And there is a sense of anger as well. Among those who believe top company managers have become rich at the expense of ordinary workers, over three-quarters (77 percent) are angry that this has happened, with 34 percent very angry. Less than one in five (18 percent) are not very angry and only five percent are not at all angry.

There is also a distribution of rewards issue, as two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) believe rewards in the American workplace are distributed less fairly than five years ago while one-third (32 percent) say rewards are distributed just as fairly and 3 percent say more fairly.

Interestingly, in 2002 two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) also believed rewards in the American workplace are distributed less fairly than they were five years previously.

There is, yet again, a partisan difference on distribution of rewards in the workplace. Three-quarters of Democrats (74 percent) and two-thirds of Independents (67 percent) say these rewards are distributed less fairly compared to half of Republicans (51 percent) who say the same.

Much of this anger is due to the fact that Americans are not happy financially. Compared to five years ago, two in five Americans are worse off financially (40 percent), two in five are financially about the same and less than one in five (18 percent) are better off.

Here, there is no real partisan difference as two in five Republicans (42 percent), Democrats (38 percent) and Independents (40 percent) all say they are worse off financially than they were five years ago.

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 25 and 27, 2011 among 2,115 adults (aged 18 and over).


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