CEO pay is rising, widening the gap between top executives and workers. What to know, by the numbers

NEW YORK (AP) — The typical compensation for CEOs of S&P 500 companies keeps climber higher — and outpacing the wages of average workers today.

In its annual analysis of CEO pay for The Associated Press, executive data firm Equilar reviewed the salaries, bonuses, perks, stock awards and other pay components of 341 top executives. The survey found that median CEO pay jumped nearly 13% last year, more than three times the 4.1% that wages and benefits netted by private-sector workers rose through 2023.

The AP’s CEO compensation study included pay data for S&P 500 CEOs who have served at least two full consecutive fiscal years at their companies, which filed proxy statements between Jan. 1 and April 30. Beyond the widening gap in compensation between CEOs and their employees, the survey also spotlights persisting gender inequity — with women still making up a minuscule amount of those with chief executive titles compared to their male counterparts.

Here's a breakdown of some of the biggest takeaways, by the numbers.

$16.3 million

That was the median pay package of CEOs last year, up 12.6% from 2022. The $16.3 million marks a midpoint, meaning half the CEOs made more and half made less.

200 YEARS

The gap between the person in the corner office and everyone else keeps getting wider. At half the companies in this year’s survey, it would take the worker at the middle of their employer’s pay scale almost 200 years to make what their CEO did — with those CEOs making at least 196 times what their median employee earned, up from 185 times last year.

The gap is particularly wide at companies where employees earn lower wages, such as retailers. At Ross Stores, for example, the company says its employee at the very middle of the pay scale was a part-time retail store associate who made $8,618. It would take 2,100 years earning that much to equal CEO Barbara Rentler’s compensation from 2023, valued at $18.1 million. A year earlier, it would have taken the median worker 1,137 years to match the CEO’s pay.

25 WOMEN

Of the 341 CEOs included in the AP’s annual compensation survey, just 25 are women. While that’s the most women making the list since the survey began in 2011, the numbers haven’t budged very much. The second highest tally was 21 women in 2017.

$17.6 million v. $16.3 million

The median pay package for female CEOs rose 21% to $17.6 million. That’s a bigger increase than what men saw: Their median pay package rose 12.2% to $16.3 million.

$162 million

Overall, Hock Tan, the CEO of Broadcom Inc., topped the AP survey with a pay package valued at about $162 million.

Broadcom granted Tan stock awards valued at $160.5 million on Oct. 31, 2022, for the company’s 2023 fiscal year. Tan was given the opportunity to earn up to 1 million shares starting in fiscal 2025, according to a securities filing, provided that Broadcom’s stock meets certain targets – and he remains CEO for five years.

$30.3 million

Lisa Su, CEO and chair of the board of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, was the highest paid female CEO in the AP survey for the fifth year in a row in fiscal 2023, bringing in total compensation worth $30.3 million — flat with her compensation package a year earlier. Her rank rose to 21 overall from 25.

Su received a base salary of $1.2 million and a performance bonus of more than $1.4 million. The bulk of her package was $21.8 million in stock awards.

11%

Many companies have heeded calls from shareholders to tie CEO compensation more closely to performance. As a result, a large proportion of pay packages consist of stock awards, which the CEO often can’t cash in for years, if at all — unless the company meets certain targets, typically a higher stock price or market value or improved operating profits.

The median stock award rose almost 11% last year, compared to a 2.7% increase in bonuses.