AT&T is currently in the midst of wide-sweeping job cuts. When lobbying for tax cuts, however, the telecommunications giant had claimed that the savings would allow them to add thousands of new jobs. In fact, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson claimed that with the tax money, “every billion dollars AT&T invests is 7,000 hard-hat jobs. These are not entry-level jobs. These are 7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard-hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year.”
AT&T ultimately saved about $3 billion in 2018 on taxes. According to Stephenson’s comments, that could have led to more than 20,000 jobs. Instead, it appears that AT&T actually cut staff following the tax breaks.
When mergers are excluded (the company recently acquired Time Warner and a few other companies) AT&T’s workforce shrank from 254,000 to 230,672, meaning more than 23,000 jobs were lost. AT&T also slashed capital spending by $1.4 billion.
AT&T hasn’t been slashing spending everywhere, however. Executives have seen their pay increase substantially since the tax cuts. General Counsel David McAtee saw his income more than double to $16.85 million, while WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey saw his income more than double to $16.55 million. Randall Stephenson’s income rose only slightly but given that he’s earning nearly $30 million per year, he’s probably not sweating it.
Economists are now warning that the stimulus effects of the tax cuts will begin wearing off. Further, analysts have found that much of the money from the tax cuts was invested in stock buybacks and executive pay. The average pay for CEOs at America’s 350 largest companies has risen to $18.9 million, up from $16 million in 2016. At the same time, wages for many Americans have stagnated.