America’s Corporations Rake in Record Profits: $825 Billion
The Fortune 500 generated a total of $824.5 billion in earnings last year, up 16.4% over 2010. That beats the previous record of $785 billion, set in 2006 during a roaring economy. The 2011 profits are outsized based on two key historical metrics. They represent 7% of total sales, vs. an average of 5.14% over the 58-year history of the Fortune 500. Companies are also garnering exceptional returns on their capital. The 500 achieved a return-on-equity of 14.3%, far above the historical norm of 12%.
Of course, that return to pre-recession level earnings hasn’t translated into job or wage growth for America’s workers. In fact, inflation-adjusted wages fell last year. Big companies are also squeezing more productivity out of their workers, with annual revenue generated per worker increasing by more than $40,000 over the last five years. CEO pay, meanwhile, increased 15 percent last year.