America’s top CEOs increased their earnings during the Covid pandemic, despite incomes for many actually falling, according to a report.
The median pay for 322 executives was $13.7 million (£9.9 million) in 2020 – a rise of $1.1 million on the year before, The Wall Street Journal found.
Increases in CEO pay during the pandemic were reported at 206 of the 322 companies reviewed by the Journal.
It included the take home pay of CEOs at Starbucks, Walgreens and Amtrak, among other well-known companies.
Although not all of the 322 companies recorded a profit during the pandemic, the median pay increase for America’s top CEOs was 15 per cent in 2020, The Journal reported.
It comes despite many CEOs forgoing almost 90 per cent of their overall compensation packages, of which 10 per cent is typically salary.
A rebounding stock market was cited by The Journal as a reason for the increase in pay, with many CEOs able to profit from shares that form a part of their compensation packages.
In fact, The Journal found that executives with the biggest pay packages during the pandemic were those who were given special stock awards.
That was the founder and CEO of Paycom, Chad Richison, and the CEO of General Electric, Larry Culp, who received $211 million (£153 million) and $73 (£53) million in 2020, respectively.
Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, as well as Tesla founder Elon Musk and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, are among a number of millionaires whose profits also increased in 2020, according to a report by Oxfam.
The boost in profits for big corporations follows a downturn in the country’s economy of 3.5 per cent of GDP last year, in what was the biggest fall since the end of the Second World War – although it is expected to return to pre-Covid levels this year.
The US employment market is also short of roughly 8.4 million jobs, with the current unemployment rate at 6.2 per cent nationally.
Millions of Americans, meanwhile, have depended on direct relief from the federal government, with 46 per cent of low income adults surveyed by Pew saying they found it difficult paying bills in 2020, due to the fallout from Covid.
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