CEO pay has skyrocketed 1,322% since 1978: CEOs were paid 351 times as much as a typical worker in 2020 | Economic Policy Institute
What this report finds: Corporate boards running America’s largest public firms are giving top executives outsize compensation packages that have grown much faster than the stock market and the pay of typical workers, college graduates, and even the top 0.1%. In 2020, a CEO at one of the top 350 firms in the U.S. was paid $24.2 million on average (using a “realized” measure of CEO pay that counts stock awards when vested and stock options when cashed in rather than when granted). This 18.9% increase from 2019 occurred because of rapid growth in vested stock awards and exercised stock options. Using a different “granted” measure of CEO pay, average top CEO compensation was $13.9 million in 2020, slightly below its level in 2019. In 2020, the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker compensation was 351-to-1 under the realized measure of CEO pay; that is up from 307-to-1 in 2019 and a big increase from 21-to-1 in 1965 and 61-to-1 in 1989. CEOs are even making a lot more than other very high earners (wage earners in the top 0.1%)—more than six times as much. From 1978 to 2020, CEO pay based on realized compensation grew by 1,322%, far outstripping S&P stock market growth (817%) and top 0.1% earnings growth (which was 341% between 1978 and 2019, the latest data available). In contrast, compensation of the typical worker grew by just 18.0% from 1978 to 2020.