Publicly traded companies—like Nike, Coca-Cola and Apple—have many options for how to spend their profits. Historically, companies spent their profits reinvesting in their business through research and development, mergers and acquisitions, capital expenditures, and workforce training and increased salaries. Today, corporations are spending the majority of their profits on share repurchases and dividends, which enrich executives and shareholders while stiffing workers.
During the most recent fiscal year, the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave $378.5 billion to shareholders. That translates to more than $46,000 for each of their combined 8 million employees.