The wallets of CEOs have gotten substantially fatter this year, according to a new report from GMI Ratings, an independent research company.
The GMI report found the top 10 biggest CEO payouts totaled $4.7 billion, the largest total ever recorded in GMI's survey. The report also found, for the first time, the top 10-paid CEOs made more than $100 million a piece, and that two of the CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Richard Kinder of oil and gas company Kinder Morgan, made over $1 billion each.
"In the more than 10 years that GMI has been publishing this report, I’ve never seen a top-10 Highest-Paid list that loomed this large," said Greg Ruel, senior research analyst and author of the report, in a press release. "While the companies in this year's list have performed well over the past three- and five-year periods in terms of shareholder return, generally speaking, it’s the sheer size and volume of equity awards granted to these top executives that catapults their total compensation to astronomical levels."
According to an analysis of the report by Dominic Rushe at The Guardian, "Chief executive pay is growing fastest for those at the top. The average rise in compensation for CEOs of the Russell 3,000 – which represents about 98 percent of all public US companies — was 8.47 percent. For the Russell 1,000 — measuring the top 1,000 companies — it was 15.47 percent."
Ruel told Matt Krantz at USA Today that if the stock market continues to keep rising this year, CEO pay could surpass even this year's incredible levels next year. "Overall could be another double-digit pay increase as long as stock prices continue to rise," Ruel said.
"The numbers have gone completely over the top," Eleanor Bloxham of The Value Alliance told Krantz. "Boards of directors risk political backlash when they can contribute to these levels of inequity."
Ned Resnikoff at MSNBC said that while CEO pay has been on the rise, "Other studies have shown that non-CEO Americans have not seen a commensurate increase in their income over the past year. For example, the U.S. Census' latest report on income and poverty found that overall household income in 2012 was 'not statistically different from the levels in 2011.'"