Even as regular workers win their biggest raises in decades, those look minuscule compared with what CEOs are getting.
The typical compensation package for chief executives who run S&P 500 companies soared 17.1% last year to a median $14.5 million, according to data analyzed for The Associated Press by Equilar. The gain towers over the 4.4% increase in wages and benefits netted by private-sector workers through 2021, which was the fastest on record going back to 2001. The raises for many rank-and-file workers also failed to keep up with inflation, which reached 7% at the end of last year.
CEO pay took off as stock prices and profits rebounded sharply as the economy roared out of its brief 2020 recession. Because much of a CEO’s compensation is tied to such performance, their pay packages ballooned after years of mostly moderate growth.
In many of the most eye-popping packages, such as Expedia Group’s, valued at $296.2 million and JPMorgan Chase’s $84.4 million, boards gave particularly big grants of stock or stock options to recently appointed CEOs navigating their companies through the pandemic or to established leaders they wanted to persuade to hang around.