The average CEO made $9.6 million in 2011, even as workers’ wages remained stagnant and unemployment hovered nationally around 8 percent. Chief Executive Officers are being paid at the highest-ever rate since the AP started tracking the figure in 2006, according to a new report from the news organization.
But while CEOs may be reaping the rewards of higher profits and a growing stock market, very little of that achievement spreads as far as the average worker — or even the company’s stockholders:
Profit at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index rose 16 percent last year, remarkable in an economy that grew more slowly than expected.
CEOs managed to sell more, and squeeze more profit from each sale, despite problems ranging from a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating to an economic slowdown in China and Europe’s neverending debt crisis.
Still, there wasn’t much immediate benefit for the shareholders. The S&P 500 ended the year unchanged from where it started. Including dividends, the index returned a slender 2 percent.
As the AP noted, “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.”
Growing CEO pay is contributing to the larger trend of increasing income inequality — CEO pay increased 127 times faster than the average worker pay over the last 30 years, and the average Fortune 500 CEO made 380 times what the average worker did last year. Fortune 500 companies made a record $824 billion in 2011.