Accounting

CEO compensation is officially off the rails

CEOs made nearly 200 times what their workers did last year, per new analysis.
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· 3 min read

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In the immortal words of Kim Kardashian: “It seems like nobody wants to work these days.” And there’s one group of people who definitely aren’t working 200 times harder than everyone else—but they’re getting paid like it.

CEOs made almost 200 times what their workers did last year, according to a recent analysis by Equilar and the Associated Press. Median pay packages for S&P 500 CEOs jumped to $16.3 million, a 12.6% YoY increase.

Wages were also up for S&P workers—but at a tragicomically slower rate. Workers’ wages climbed 4.1% throughout 2023, and here’s the kicker: "At half the companies in this year’s pay survey, it would take the worker at the middle of the company’s pay scale almost 200 years to make what their CEO did," according to the AP.

We haven’t crunched the numbers, but we have a feeling their meetings aren’t 200 times harder to sit through.

The trouble, besides everything, with this gap is that while paychecks finally grew faster than prices in 2023, the average American is still struggling with years of painful inflation, making any slight pay gains ultimately feel negligible.

“Americans are spending $1,015 more per month than they did in 2021 for the same basket of goods and services,” per Moody’s Analytics; the financial intelligence company told CNN that the rise in costs almost entirely negates income increases, which rose $1,109 per month in the same period.

“Most of the focus here is on inflation, which people are really feeling, but they’re feeling the pain of inflation more because they’re not seeing their wages go up enough,” Sarah Anderson, Global Economy Project director at the Institute for Policy Studies, told the AP.

In response to growing calls to wed executive compensation more tightly to company performance, many CEO pay packages are linked tightly to the stock market in the form of stock awards, the AP reported. Stock awards accounted for 70% of total compensation last year, per the Equilar study, and due to the market boom, the median stock awards climbed 10.7% to $9.4 million, according to CNN.

And the most overblown salary of the crew belongs to Hock Tan, CEO of semiconductor manufacturer Broadcom. He made $161.8 million last year, fueled primarily by stock awards. The company’s growing share price doubled his compensation in 2023: He made 510 times the median salary of Broadcom employees.

We’ll give it to him: He must be hustling 510 times harder.

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.