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The Margin: Top CEOs see nearly 31% pay increase in 2021, study shows

It pays to be the boss.

Median pay for the top 100 chief executives in the U.S. reached $20 million last year, up 30.8% from 2020, according to data from a new study from Equilar. The study analyzed CEO pay from the largest 100 U.S. companies by revenue, and is not a list of the 100 highest-paid CEOs.

Among the CEOs cashing in during 2021 were Apple’s
AAPL,
-0.13%

Tim Cook, Broadcom’s
AVGO,
+2.20%

Hock Tan and Microsoft’s
MSFT,
+0.25%

Satya Nadella.

The highest-paid CEO on this year’s list is Intel’s
INTC,
+2.12%

Patrick Gelsinger, who was awarded nearly $178 million.

CEO pay dipped about 2% in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the same study last year, but rebounded swiftly in 2021.

The pay included in the data is a combination of salary, stock awards and cash bonuses.

One interesting note from the data was the lack of women near the top of the list. There were nine female CEOs in the Equilar 100 list companies in 2021, an increase from six in 2020. But no female CEO was among the top 10 highest paid, with the top earner being Rosalind Brewer, head of Walgreens Boots Alliance
WBA,
-0.69%
,
who ranked 14th on the list at $28.3 million.

Additionally, the ratio of CEO-to-median-worker compensation has continued to rise. Among the top 100 companies in 2021, the median CEO pay ratio was 254:1, much higher than the 238:1 ratio from the previous year’s list.

The trends also to pushed up the ratio of CEO pay to the pay of companies’ median workers to 254:1 from 238:1 a year ago, Equilar’s study said.

median CEO pay reached $20 million in 2021, up 30.8% from 2020
Median employee pay increased 4.3% to $71.869
The median CEO Pay Ratio was 254:1 in 2021, up considerably from 238:1 in 2020

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