Some CEOs Took a Pay Cut — It Would Still Take Workers 186 Years to Make the Same Salary A new report found that CEO compensation increased by only 0.9% in 2022, the smallest increase since 2015.
Many CEOs earned less last year than the year prior, but the wage gap between top executives and the workers who work for them is steeper than ever.
In 2022, the average compensation package for CEOs at S&P 500 companies (an index of the 500 leading publicly traded companies in the U.S.) was $14.8 million, increasing only 0.9% from the year prior (marking the smallest increase in eight years), according to a report from data firm Equilar in partnership with the Associated Press. The 0.9% increase means about half of the CEOs surveyed earned less and about half earned more.
However, despite the minor decline in pay for some top execs, it still doesn't put a dent in the massive wage gap between CEOs and employees. According to the report, the median compensation for S&P 500 employees in 2022 was $77,178, and while the increase in pay from the year prior (1.3%) was larger than CEOs (0.9%), it would still take workers 186 years to earn what the average CEO made in the calendar year of 2022.
The highest-paid CEO in 2022 was Sundar Pichai of Google's parent company Alphabet, who raked in a nine-figure salary of $225,985,145. The second-highest paid was Michael Rapino of Live Nation Entertainment (also the only other CEO to make nine-figures with $139,005,565), followed by Tim Cook at Apple ($99,420,097).
"I'm not surprised that after two record years in a row, pay hikes cooled somewhat," Sarah Anderson, global economy project director at the Institute for Policy Studies, told the AP. "What we shouldn't lose sight of is that CEO pay is still off the charts by historical measures." Anderson added that even the minor uptick in 2022 was "outrageous."
According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEO compensation has increased by 1460.2% from 1978 to 2021 (adjusting for inflation), while worker compensation increased by 18.1%.
The astronomical paychecks of some top executives have stirred controversy over the past year as budget cuts and layoffs wreak havoc across a variety of industries.
In March, Meta employees grilled CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a town hall meeting about the six-figure bonuses given to C-suite executives despite the company's widespread layoffs.
Zuckerberg allegedly responded by saying the executives received their raises because they had stepped into new roles and "taken on expanded scopes" — which rubbed some workers the wrong way, with one worker present in the meeting calling his response "shallow" and "patronizing."