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$10 million a year: the average salary of an American CEO

$10 million a year: the average salary of an American CEO
If you weren’t sold on the whole Occupy Wall Street thing before, then listen up — despite the United States still in the process of picking itself out of a major recession, the average corporate CEO raked in nearly $10 million apiece in 2011.

The results of a study published on Friday by the Associated Press reveal that, on average, the chief executive officers at public companies raked in around $9.6 million each last year.

But how does that rack up when compared to the average American? The median pay for a worker in the US in 2011 was clocked in at only $39,300 last year.

The AP has analyzed the payouts from 2011 issued to CEOs of public companies to come to these results and, for the average American, the findings may be beyond depressing. The highest CEO, in fact — David Simon — brought in $137.2 million last year, a 458 percent increase from the year before.

Simon’s company, the Simon Property Group, is a commercial real estate group founded in 1993 that primarily manages properties licensed to shopping malls and other consumer centers where you’d be hard off to find an employee making above middle wage. For a simple comparison, look at how the AP puts just that one man’s salary into perspective:

“Simon makes about 342 times the $400,000 annual salary of President Barack Obama. In fact, if you add the salaries of Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court justices, all the members of the Senate and House of Representatives and all 50 governors, it is less than $110 million, so Simon makes well more than government’s top 600 leaders.”

Legislation passed only last year allows public company shareholders to vote on proposed CEO pay and give it the yay or nay, and while the vote is nonbinding, higher-ups are apt to avoid disappointing investors. Given the latest findings, though, outrage over the distribution of wealth might soon have shareholders asking questions. Just this month, in fact, shareholders voiced opposition to Simon’s pay package with 73 percent of investors saying they were not in favor of his hefty handout. Since the law makes these votes nonbinding, however, Simon shouldn’t expect to see his paychecks grow smaller in the coming months.

Oh, and before you forget — 20.5 million Americans — or 6.7 percent — have incomes that leave them to be grouped below half of the official poverty line. In Washington, DC, one-in-ten are grouped to be among the poorest of the poor.

The AP adds that, going back one century, US taxpayers have paid, taking into account inflation, only $80.6 million to Uncle Sam. Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, was paid $68.4 million last year, a raise of 20 percent from 2011. If that trend continues, he’ll crack that $80 million during 2012.