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Typical CEO made $9.6 million last year

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And for many shareholders, their main concern – that pay is just too much, no matter what the form – has yet to be addressed.

"It's just that total (compensation) is going up, and that's where the problem lies," says Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.

The typical American worker would have to labor for 244 years to make what the typical boss of a big public company makes in one. The median pay for U.S. workers was about $39,300 last year. That was up 1 percent from the year before, not enough to keep pace with inflation.

Since the AP began tracking CEO pay five years ago, the numbers have seesawed. Pay climbed in 2007, fell during the recession in 2008 and 2009 and then jumped again in 2010.

To determine 2011 pay packages, the AP used Equilar data to look at the 322 companies in the S&P 500 that had filed statements with federal regulators through April 30. To make comparisons fair, the sample includes only CEOs in place for at least two years.

Among the AP's other findings:

David Simon, CEO of Simon Property, which operates malls around the country, is on track to be the highest-paid in the AP survey, at $137 million. That was almost entirely in stock awards that could eventually be worth $132 million. The company said it wanted to make sure Simon wasn't lured to another company. He has been CEO since 1995; his father and uncle are Simon Property's co-founders.

This month, Simon Property's shareholders rejected Simon's pay package by a large margin: 73 percent of the votes cast for or against were against.

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