Unemployment Rises…So Does Lavish CEO Salary
Remember the outrage over lavish Wall Street bonuses doled out in the wake of the financial crisis? The brouhaha supposedly put an end to the outrageous pay packages enjoyed by many American CEOs — and not just in the financial sector.
But over two years later, very little has changed. A new website launched by the AFL-CIO, aimed at focusing public attention on excessive executive compensation, touts some shocking numbers. Among them:
- Last year, total compensation for CEOs averaged $11.4 million, up 23 percent from the previous year, according to data for 299 major companies.
- CEOs at those 299 companies raked in a total of $3.4 billion. That’s enough to support over 100,000 jobs that paying the median wage of just over $33,000.
- Average CEO compensation is 343 times that median wage.
- Ray Irani (pictured), the outgoing CEO of Occidental Petroleum Corp., took in $76.1 million in compensation last year. Over the last decade, he received $857 million. “We’re not in the business to employ people. We’re in the business to make a profit,” Irani has said, according to the AP.
- Evan at large financial services companies — where the furor over bonuses was focused — total compensation rose 5.7 percent in 2010, to a record $149 billion.
The numbers above include base salary, bonuses, stock awards, and any other form of compensation.
The site, Executive Paywatch, allows users to search for specific companies and find out how much their CEO was paid. For instance, it says that G.E. CEO Jeff Immelt, who also serves as President Obama’s “jobs czar,” took in $21,428,765 in total compensation last year.
The Dodd-Frank legislation passed by Congress last year included several provisions aimed at making it easier for shareholders to rein in excessive executive pay. For instance, it required companies to publicly disclose the ratio between CEO pay and the pay of their median worker.
The AFL-CIO’s campaign comes at a time of increased concern over growing inequality. As we’ve noted, the income of the richest 1 percent of Americans has exploded over the last 30 years, while income growth for the bottom 90 percent has remained barely budged.