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CEO pay: Here is how a lot the everyday chief government made final 12 months


Even when common staff win their largest raises in a long time, these wage will increase look minuscule in contrast with what CEOs are getting.

The standard compensation bundle for chief executives who run S&P 500 firms soared 17.1% final 12 months, to a median $14.5 million, in response to knowledge analyzed for The Related Press by Equilar.

The achieve towers over the 4.4% enhance in wages and advantages netted by private-sector staff by way of 2021, which was the quickest on file going again to 2001. The raises for a lot of rank-and-file staff additionally didn’t sustain with inflation, which reached 7% on the finish of final 12 months.

CEO pay took off as inventory costs and earnings rebounded sharply because the financial system roared out of its temporary 2020 recession. As a result of a lot of a CEO’s compensation is tied to such efficiency, their pay packages ballooned after years of principally moderating development.

In most of the most eye-popping packages, resembling Expedia Group’s, valued at $296.2 million and JPMorgan Chase’s $84.4 million, boards gave notably massive grants of inventory or inventory choices to just lately appointed CEOs navigating their firms by way of the pandemic or to established leaders they wished to persuade to hold round.

The CEOs usually cannot money in on such inventory or choices for years, or probably ever, except the corporate meets efficiency targets. However firms nonetheless should disclose estimates for a way a lot they’re price. Solely a few quarter of the everyday pay bundle for all S&P 500 CEOs final 12 months got here as precise money they might pocket.


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No matter its composition, the chasm in pay between CEOs and the rank-and-file staff they oversee retains widening. At half the businesses on this 12 months’s pay survey, it will take the employee on the center of the corporate’s pay scale a minimum of 186 years to make what their CEO did final 12 months. That is up from 166 a 12 months earlier.

At Walmart, for instance, the corporate stated its median affiliate made $25,335 in compensation final 12 months. Which means half its staff made extra, and half made much less.

That is up 21% from $20,942 a 12 months earlier and got here as the corporate’s common hourly wage for U.S. associates rose from $14.50 in January 2021 to greater than $17 at the moment. That enhance was larger than the elevate CEO Doug McMillon obtained, on a proportion foundation. However his 13.7% elevate netted him a complete bundle valued at $25.7 million.

“Demoralizing message”

Anger is rising over such an imbalance. Surveys recommend Individuals throughout political events see CEO pay as too excessive, and a few traders are pushing again.

Staff are attempting to prepare unions throughout the nation, and the “Nice Resignation” has emboldened thousands and thousands to give up to seek out higher jobs elsewhere. The U.S. authorities counted greater than 4 million quits throughout April 2021 alone, the primary time that occurred. The month-to-month quantity has since topped 4.5 million twice.

“That’s going so as to add an enormous value to company backside strains, to have these form of turnover charges,” stated Sarah Anderson, director of the worldwide financial system undertaking on the progressive Institute for Coverage Research.

“They need to be excited about what sort of message they’re sending to these folks, about whether or not they’re actually valued of their jobs,” Anderson stated. “When the man within the nook workplace is making a number of hundred if not 1000’s of occasions extra, that is sending a extremely demoralizing message.”


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Positive aspects for CEO pay had been slowing lately, with the median rise easing from 8.5% in 2017 to 4.1% in 2019. It ticked again as much as 5% in 2020, which was a sophisticated 12 months as a result of the pandemic shut down the financial system and earnings at many firms tanked.

For 2020, many firms rejiggered the intricate formulation they created to find out their CEOs’ pay. The tweaks made up for losses brought on by the pandemic, one thing many boards stated was a unprecedented occasion outdoors the CEO’s management.

Then got here 2021. Due to a reopened financial system, super-low rates of interest from the Federal Reserve and different components, inventory costs soared and the S&P 500 jumped practically 27%, setting data by way of the 12 months. Earnings per share soared roughly 50%.

All year long, CEOs needed to navigate snarled provide chains and shortages of chips and different key supplies that impacted companies throughout industries, stated Dan Laddin, a companion at Compensation Advisory Companions, a consulting agency that works with boards.

Largest CEO pay hike since 2010 

“All this led to a want to actually reward” executives, stated Kelly Malafis, additionally a companion at Compensation Advisory Companions, “as a result of the monetary efficiency was there, and the view was that administration groups have been distinctive in navigating the state of affairs and delivering outcomes.”

Final 12 months’s 17.1% leap for median pay of S&P 500 CEOs was the largest since a 23.9% surge for 2010 compensation packages, in response to the info analyzed by Equilar.

Think about Marry Barra, CEO of Normal Motors. Her trade was notably onerous hit by the scarcity of laptop chips, which snarled auto manufacturing.

Even so, GM’s board highlighted how the corporate nonetheless delivered file earnings earlier than curiosity, taxes and another objects. The automaker additionally accelerated growth of its electrical autos. These are two of the components that affect Barra’s pay, and her compensation climbed 25.4% to $29.1 million.

“I’d hope that the company making file earnings would acknowledge that the employees doing the work are those producing the income,” stated Dave Inexperienced, a scorching steel driver at a GM facility in Bedford, Indiana. “We’re simply making an attempt to get by.”

He cited particularly short-term staff making roughly $16 hourly, who need to work years earlier than approaching as full-time workers and do not get many alternatives for days off within the meantime.

“The brand new folks coming in, their children will not be going to have the ability to have the alternatives my children had,” stated Inexperienced, who has two daughters and began at GM as a summer time helper in 1989.

166% elevate

Nearer to the highest of the rankings for CEO pay final 12 months was JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, whose compensation bundle valued at $84.4 million was the fifth-highest within the AP survey. That was up 166.7% from a 12 months earlier, and most of it got here from an award of inventory choices valued at $52.6 million.

The board stated it offered the choices due to its want for Dimon, who’s 66, to maintain main the corporate for considerably extra years and a “distinctive inflection level in Mr. Dimon’s tenure.” It additionally stated the choices weren’t part of his common annual compensation and that he should wait a minimum of 5 years to start exercising them.

Even so, solely 31% of traders at JPMorgan Chase’s annual assembly of shareholders just lately gave a thumbs up on Dimon’s pay bundle. The vote is simply advisory, although, and does not drive the corporate to make modifications.

Final 12 months, a median of 92.6% of shareholders accredited what’s known as their “Say On Pay” vote within the AP’s survey. That was down only a bit from 93.4% the 12 months earlier than.

The AP’s and Equilar’s compensation examine included pay knowledge for 340 CEOs at S&P 500 firms who’ve served a minimum of two fiscal years at their firms, which filed proxy statements between Jan. 1 and April 30. Some high-profile CEOs will not be included as a result of they do not match the standards, resembling Amazon’s Andy Jassy and Twitter’s Parag Agrawal. The survey doesn’t depend modifications within the worth of CEOs’ pension advantages and another objects in its totals for compensation.



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