CEOs see pay rise 24% on average

The top bosses at the nation's largest companies are getting paid more than they were in 2007. Cash bonuses are also increasing.

By Kim Peterson May 6, 2011 1:54PM
Image: CEO (© Roy McMahon/Corbis)The chief executive of CBS (CBS) was paid nearly $57 million last year. The head of Occidental Petroleum (OXY) made $76 million. And the top boss at Comcast (CMCSA) took home $31 million.

The recession has clearly faded into ancient history for executives at the largest public companies, who are getting paid more now than in 2007, The Associated Press reports. Using data from a compensation research firm, AP has gathered a list of last year's 50 highest-paid CEOs.

Seven chief executives took home more than $30 million, including salary, perks, bonuses, stock options and other factors. Viacom (VIA) head Philippe Dauman topped the list, with $84.5 million in compensation -- a 149% gain from the year before. Viacom's stock did well last year, rising 46% to end December at an adjusted close of $45.72. Viacom owns MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures.

Not every boss saw that kind of success, however. At Time Warner (TWX), chief executive Jeff Bewkes took home $26.1 million, a 35% increase, even though the stock price rose only 13% to $32.03.

A CEO in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index received a $9 million pay package, on average, last year, AP reported. That's 24% more than in 2009, and much of the gain came in the form of larger cash bonuses.

Executive compensation is tied to a number of factors, such as financial performance. Part of the reason we're seeing CEO pay jump is that profits did as well. In the AP analysis of  the companies, profit rose 41% last year.

Another reason pay rose is that the stock market did, too, and CEOs made big money, at least on paper, on the stocks and options they received over the past few years.

These pay levels are almost always set with zero input from many shareholders. That's because some of the biggest shareholders are institutional investors and they generally don't put up much fuss about CEO pay.

New government regulations now require that shareholders vote at least once every three years on CEO pay. The votes aren't binding and don't mean much, but at least pay levels will be a bigger part of the discussion.

Here are the 15 highest-paid CEOs, according to AP: (Click here for the top 50.)

Philippe Dauman of Viacom was paid $84.5 million, up 149%.

Ray Irani of Occidental Petroleum was paid $76.1 million, up 142%.

Leslie Moonves of CBS was paid $56.9 million, up 32%.

David Zaslav of Discovery Communications (DISCA) was paid $42.6 million, up 265%.

Richard Adkerson of Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold (FCX) was paid $35.3 million, up 76%.

John Lundgren of Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) was paid $32.6 million, up 253%.

Brian Roberts of Comcast was paid $31 million, up 14%.

Robert Iger of Walt Disney (DIS) was paid $28 million, up 30%.

Alan Mulally of Ford Motor (F) was paid $26.5 million, up 48%.

Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner was paid $26.1 million, up 35%.


May 6, 2011 2:58PM
duh...........this sounds like the trickle up economic policy that began with Reagan, the corporate puppet, who sold us the "trickle down theory", that is, no rules and regulations and low or no taxes for the corporations and they will make a lot of money that will trickle down to the little people.  We have witnessed the wholesale high jacking of our republic and an inordinate share of the wealth by a small group of us.  This is oligarchy!
May 6, 2011 5:58PM
I was 'downsized ' by comcast 2 1/2 years ago along with hundreds of others in my region.  I haven't been able to find a job since.  Obviously my salary had to be eliminated to give Brian Roberts and all the other brass at comcast millions in raises, like they need it.   Enjoy your money, Brian!  Excuse me now while I go apply for food stamps.............. 
May 6, 2011 6:01PM

You know the funny thing is that these individuals believe that they are actually WORTH this type of salary.  True definition of a megalomaniac. 

If these CEOs would have declined their 24% or more salary increases, that money probably could have put Americans back to work......................this is IMHO more treasonous than many other actions that get litigated. 


Ok all you about rejecting those salary increases and put that money into hiring American workers ?

Isn't that how this was supposed to go?  Give the big money makers the continued tax break (read this as thanks GOP) and they will create more jobs ............................Hey look  - look what they did with those tax decreases....................they lined their slimey deep pockets with the money and created zilch, nada, nothing in the jobs market.


WAKE UP AMERICA - your all going to need a very large jar of vaseline for the screwing that's heading your way this year!

May 6, 2011 5:54PM
Hmmmm....let's see:

I got a 0% raise because even though we're having a good year, we must contain costs to remain competitive.  All this while the cost of living is up what....15% in the past year?

So the CEO's are getting (avg) 24% raises huh?  I would have no problem siting down with any of these CEO's over a cup of $1.25 McD's coffee and telling them how they need to see how the "real people" like us make a living.

May 6, 2011 6:05PM
This is wrong in so many ways. So many unemployed, pay cuts, states removing unions, cuts in insurance and higher co-pays. Our government screws the American people and wants us to become a third world country, they are winning. I want to be here when the revolt starts.
May 6, 2011 5:56PM

I have no problem with them making this much money as long as what they are making not more than 500% the average wage of all the other employees and everyone has the same benefits.  Do you think that is the case or did they make this much money shipping jobs overseas and laying off American workers?


GREED for their own sake is what is RUINING American companies.  Making money is good but PAY the people who made it for you a FAIR WAGE!  The tax structure should encourage profit sharing and making sure everyone makes a good living without the ones at the top raping the company and hanging the workers out to dry.

May 6, 2011 5:52PM
Just keep paying those CEOs higher wages then when the economy tanks again then blame the workers.
May 6, 2011 9:35PM

The math is simple.  CEO pay rose 24% year over year.  Average wage for all non-farm production and non-supervisory employees rose a whopping 0.6% for the same time period.  Average wage for the same workers annualized was $10.37 per hour, or $21,500 per year. 


Now let's drill down to compare - If I am one of the CEO's cited in this article I get by on an average annual pay of $43.96 million dollars a year and I am making 2,044 times more than the average hourly worker.  I recall a reading a treatise once on CEO pay and it suggested that the highest multiple of pay above the wage of an average worker a CEO should receive is 300X.   That would mean that the average CEO would have to try to make ends meet on $6,540,000 per year.  And I think we can all agree that most CEO's are pretty average, except in their own minds.


But if I'm a CEO, I'm worth it based on the amount of a$$ I've kissed, the number of boots I've licked and the number of people running around with knives sticking out of their backs.  Besides all my other cronies that sit on the Board of Directors that approve my pay are CEO's too, so we try to take care of each other,


Now c'mon - really?  How in the world does anyone try and defend that? 

May 6, 2011 6:31PM
Reaganomics' *trickle down theory* has had 27 years to get me wet.  I'm still as dry as Death Valley.  Wasn't the plan for all these corporations to re-invest in themselves with expanded production, increased workforces and payraises?  Who do they think buys their corporations' goods and services??????   Their own minumum wage, part-time workforce?
May 6, 2011 6:19PM
TAX EM....................TAX EM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
May 6, 2011 5:59PM

Obama wants to increase  taxes on  those incomes of $250,000 which impacts the small business owner and professionals.  How about just raising the taxes on those in two levels:

Over $500000 and $1M.  Lower the rates for all others.

May 6, 2011 5:56PM

so they get raises while my husband still remains unemployed for the last year and a half.....this is RIDICULOUS!!!

May 6, 2011 7:09PM
Pretty soon they'll figure out they don't have to pay the working people any money at all, just throw a can of beans on the floor and watch the employees fight over it to see who gets "paid" that day.   We need a modern day Robin Hood!
May 6, 2011 6:32PM
If they can make that kind of money then they can pay more taxes rather than hiring a team of CPA's to get out of paying their fair share.

Close those loopholes!!!!!!!!

May 6, 2011 7:25PM

Greed is destroying our country. Banks, wall street and big corporations are out of control. They have a license to steal and they do. We will come together as a people and force change or these pigs and their government will put us in depression and chaos.

   The capital gains tax where most big money is made is only 15%. Public owned corporations get tax breaks when outsourcing for slave labor. Oil companies get billions tax free from the "Oil Depletion allowance". Big banks get billions in 0% loans to play the market and make foreign investments.

   Our country is run as though only 2% of the people is all that matters. This is a sure formula for economic disaster. Millions in the streets demanding real change may be the only hope for America. When money is God and "the man who has the gold makes the rules" we will all end up in a pig pen and there will be no real winners.

May 6, 2011 6:56PM
People whine and complain and act as if a labor union will destroy the fabric of a companies financial health when they fight and claw for hourly workers to get a measley 3% pay raise ! Yeah I see what's wrong with America !
May 6, 2011 7:09PM

S. Texan

What is it exactly you are saying?  What you are saying makes no sense.  Does anybody that is posting know what "Robber Baron" means?  Do you know your history?  Do you know when and how the middle class actually appeared in the US?  Do you know how it was brought about?  What have you read lately?  Getting all of your thoughts, beliefs and "facts" from MSNBC, FOX, Rush, Imus, Palin,?  Did you study your history?  Do you remember any of it?  I studied history.  I have read biographies of Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Nixon, JD Rockefeller, Getty, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Warren Buffett, JP Morgan,   How can you think that the attempt to get us on track by taxing those that have sucked the taxpayers-Skank of America, Chase Morgan, etc-have you read Mike Taibbei lately?  The super rich keep getting richer-and it is not by creating jobs etc.  it is by exploiting workers, loopholes and government hand outs.  Look at what the CEOs have done to improve the US --really nothing--  We no longer care about our fellow American--it is all about what can you do for me and what have you done for me lately.  We no longer care about the future-we live for today.  Something does need to happen-business and goverment need to be revamped.  we are heading back to a two class system and it is not going to be because of Obama etc.  Please learn don't just adopt sound bites as the foundation of your beliefs etc.

May 6, 2011 7:43PM
Could someone tell me what anyone making $50-100 million a year does with all that money?  When is enough enough?

During WWII this nation was in serious trouble and everyone sacrificed and the top income tax rate in 1944 was 94%!   These captains of industry are living in a nation that protects their businesses and yet they scream bloody murder when someone suggests raising the top tax rate 4% back to where it was pre-George W. Bush. 

And whatever happened to the concept of anti-trust?  There is no competition in insurance, banking, oil and a lot of other industries.  They set the terms and the price and we agree or do without.  Is that what they call capitalism?

May 6, 2011 6:10PM

Instead of the overpaying the CEO - Brian Roberts of Comcast was paid $31 million, up 14%.- how about reduce my use to be free TV?   How about take off the commercials that weren't going to run becuse we paid for the service....How about have the cities who set up this monopoly regulate the industry and get rid of pay practices like this....When are people going to be fed up enough with this to stop it.     The rich get richer when all they have to do is juts raise millions of peoples billls by a dollar and we take it...



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