RSS
The incredible growing CEO paycheck: By the numbers
Are you the CEO of a giant publicly traded company? If so, congratulations: You probably make about $15 million a year
 
Yahoo's Marissa Mayer made $36.6 million last year. She is America's highest paid female CEO.
Yahoo's Marissa Mayer made $36.6 million last year. She is America's highest paid female CEO. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The chief executives of large U.S. companies are paid a lot of money and got a hefty raise last year, according to data compiled by Equilar for The New York Times. "In other words, it’s still good to be king," says Gretchen Morgenson in The Times. And "the idea that shareholders were finally getting through to corporate boards on the topic of reining in pay"? Not so much.

This isn't exactly news, says Matthew Yglesias at Slate. Everyone knows that CEOs get paid a lot, and "that the pay gap between the big executives and the average Joe has been growing." The surprise in The New York Times' great database of corporate compensation "is the striking lack of method to the madness: America's CEOs are paid a lot largely because other American CEOs are also paid a lot."

All that is true, but some caveats are in order, says Dylan Tweney at VentureBeat. First, "the report is skewed, because it looks only at publicly-traded companies with revenues of $1 billion or more, and it's focused only on the 200 CEOs with the highest compensation (including cash, perks, stock options, and stock grants)." It doesn't, in other words, paint a complete picture of corporate America, "or even of the Fortune 500: It shows only the fattest fish in the pond."

Still, it's hard to dispute that, warranted or not, the pay packages are pretty fat. Here are some numbers about the huge — and growing — CEO paychecks of U.S. corporate chieftains:

$15.1 million
Median 2012 compensation of top 200 CEOs

16
Percentage rise in median compensation from 2011

19
Percentage rise in the share prices of these companies in 2011

$9 million
Median 2012 stock and stock option grants of top 200 CEOs

$5.3 million
Median 2012 cash compensation of top 200 CEOs

$96.2 million
Total 2012 compensation of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, an increase of $18.6 million over 2011

$90.7 million
Ellison's stock options granted in 2012, 94 percent of his pay package

24
Percentage Ellison's total pay rose in 2012

$64.9 million
Total 2012 compensation of No. 2 on the list, Activision Blizzard's Robert A. Kotick

$32 million
Total cash compensation of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, out of his $60.3 million pay package (highest cash pay)

$36.6 million
Total 2012 compensation of Yahoo CEO Melissa Meyer, making her the highest-paid female executive

$8.1 million
Base 2012 salary of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, out of his $22.4 million pay package (highest base salary)

$11.9 million
Average compensation of CEOs of major eatery chains in 2012, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI)

$3 million
Average compensation of CEOs of major eatery chains in 2008

$15,080
Average annual wages of a full-time, minimum wage worker in the food industry, 788 times less than the CEOs

4.7
Times higher public-company CEO pay was than the top 0.1 percent of wage earners in 2010, according to EPI

202
Times higher public-company CEO pay was than the average worker's in 2012, according to EPI

18.3
Times higher public-company CEO pay was than the average worker's in 1965

Sources: All Things D, Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, New York Times (2), Slate, VentureBeat

 
Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week