In an imbalance near an all-time high, U.S. corporate chief executives were paid on average 262 times the salary of an average worker last year, according to a study released last week by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
EPI estimated that CEOs of major U.S. firms were paid an average of $10.98 million annually, including salary, bonuses, stock options and other compensation. That compared with average worker pay of $41,861
The ratio of 262 to 1 was the second highest on record and the steepest since 2000, when the ratio was 300 to 1.
"In 2005, a CEO earned more in one workday (there are 260 in a year) than an average worker earned in 52 weeks," the EPI said.
The imbalance has been on a sharp increase in the past decades, despite modest annual changes. "In 1965, U.S. CEOs in major companies earned 24 times more than an average worker; this ratio grew to 35 in 1978 and to 71 in 1989. The ratio surged in the 1990s and hit 300 at the end of the recovery in 2000," the report said.
"The fall in the stock market reduced CEO stock-related pay (e.g., options), causing CEO pay to moderate to 143 times that of an average worker in 2002," it said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006