While millions of 99% Americans continue to be jobless and the nation’s unemployment rate hovers around 8.3 percent, chief executive officers of the nation’s largest companies received a 2 percent pay raise last year. While that may not seem like much of an increase, it came on top of a 27 percent hike in 2010, according to a report in USA Today.
The median, or mid-point, pay of top executives was $9.6 million in 2011, USA Today reported, based on 138 companies in the Standard & Poor’s index of 500 largest companies whose pay data has been disclosed. As more CEO pay data becomes public, the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch website, paywatch.org, will be updated with more complete data in mid-April.
While CEO pay rose, USA Today noted, average weekly earnings of workers, adjusted for inflation, fell 1.2 percent from the October 2010 peak through February 2012, the latest data available.
The article was based on data from GMI Ratings of companies that had the same CEO in 2010 and 2011.
Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, was the highest-paid top executive for the second consecutive year, collecting $431.1 million in 2011. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, who would otherwise have had the dubious distinction of being the highest-paid chief executive, was not included in the survey because he was promoted only in August 2011. Cook received $378 million in 2011, a 540 percent increase from what he collected in 2010.
While the 99 percent continue to struggle, a new report by economist Emmanuel Saez shows that the richest Americans also rebounded faster from the effects of the financial crisis. In 2010, the first year of the economy’s recovery from the Great Recession, almost all of the growth in income went to the top 1 percent. According to Saez's data, the incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans grew 11.6 percent in 2010, while the income of the bottom 99 percent grew only by 0.2 percent.
Not only did continuing CEOs receive generous compensation, but departing CEOs also collected large paychecks while heading out. William Weldon, who announced on Feb. 21 that he would be retiring as the head of Johnson & Johnson in April, headed out with $144 million in retirement pay.