U.S. CEO Pay Jumps Minimum Of 27 Percent Last Year, Survey Finds

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Ceopay

First Posted: 12/14/11 05:40 PM ET Updated: 12/15/11 11:19 AM ET

While the incomes of so many Americans remain the same size or get smaller, corporate chiefs can't say they're suffering in quite the same way.

American CEOs saw pay increases of between 27 and 40 percent last year, according to a GovernanceMetrics International survey cited by theGuardian. In addition, the median value of CEOs profits on stock options jumped to $1.3 million from $950,400.

This, even after Congress passed financial reform regulations that included provisions aimed at making CEO pay more transparent by allowing shareholders to weigh in.

The survey's findings may resonate with Occupy movement activists, who have been railing against income inequality since the protests first started. Indeed, CEO pay by itself exceeded the amount that his or her corporation paid in income taxes in at least 25 cases last year. And in the year before America's highest-highest-paid corporate chief netted more than $145 million, U.S. median income fell to below $27,000, meaning half of all earners made less than that.

But John Hammergren, CEO of healthcare provider McKesson, isn't the only boss taking home the big bucks. JPMorgan Chase Chief Jamie Dimon got a $19 million raise in 2010 and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein netted an extra $3.6 million in bonuses last year.

The news is a good sign for people in the top one percent of earners, who saw their incomes drop by roughly a third in the official years of the recession, according to a recent report by The New York Times. Still, even after that fall, the net worth of one percenters remained 200 times higher than that of the median national income, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Some CEOs even got huge pay packages for not doing their jobs. Eugene Isenberg took home $100 million for dropping his title as CEO of Nabors Industries in October. While Dougless Foshee, the CEO of natural gas pipeline operator El Paso, became eligible for an exit package worth $95 million after the company was acquired by rival Kinder Morgan.

Still, some don't seem to mind the huge CEO paydays. The vast majority of corporate shareholders say that CEOs are being compensated correctly, according to an October study from research firm Equilar.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post said an increase to $1.3 million from $950.000 is a 70 percent increase. It is a 36.8 percent increase.

What other jobs do the richest Americans hold? Find the answer below:

3. Financial Professions, Including Management
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Percentage of top 1 percent with occupation in 2005: 13.9 percent
Percentage of top 1 percent with occupation in 1979: 7.7 percent