Top CEOs continued to see pay increases even as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the economy and forced millions of people out of work, The Associated Press reports.
The median pay package for an S&P500 CEO rose to $12.7 million last year, according to an analysis, meaning that about half of CEOs earned more than $13 million.
That represents a 5% increase from 2019.
Regular workers -- that is, those who were still employed after millions of people lost thejr jobs -- saw a smaller increase in pay.
Wages for non-government workers increased 2.6% last year.
“This should have been a year for shared sacrifice,” Sarah Anderson, who heads the global economy project at the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies, told the AP. “Instead it became a year of shielding CEOs from risk while it was the frontline employees who paid the price.”
Boards awarded big paydays despite struggles:
Carnival Cruise Lines were among the first and hardest hit as the pandemic upended the cruise industry last spring and thousands of workers were furloughed.
But the company gave grants to executives to encourage them to stay at the company. Those grants are expected to increase last year’s payout to CEO Arnold Donald to around $13.3 million, up 19% despite the company losing $10 billion last year.
At Advance Auto Parts, CEO Tom Greco’s performance pay was expected to sag amid rising costs to respond to the pandemic but the board decided that since the costs were unanticipated they would exclude them from the calculation, raising Greco’s compensation by nearly 5%.
Not all CEOs:
Some CEOs did see pay decreases, particularly those at companies that saw earnings drop.
But overall, 61%, or 342 of the CEOs analyzed saw pay increases from 2019.
Even CEOs that took highly publicized pay cuts ultimately earned more because salaries are often just a fraction of executive compensation packages.