While many Americans continue to struggle with shrinking pay, the sputtering economy hasn't slowed the gravy train in corner offices.
The value of CEO perquisites -- goodies like personal use of the corporate jet, cars and drivers, gyms and extra retirement contributions -- jumped 8.6% in 2011, the most recent full year of data available, says a recent study by Equilar, an executive compensation data firm. (Visit the firm at equilar.com). CEOs at Fortune 100 companies got a median $248,638 worth of perks.
In other words, in perks alone CEOs got almost five times the U.S. median household income, which shrunk 1.5% to $50,054 in 2011. (CEO pay was also up lot, rising 6.6% to $9.6 million at Standard & Poor's 500 ($INX) companies, says Equilar.)
"Giving out more perks to executives while most employees are struggling with stagnant pay, cuts in benefits and unemployment adds insult to injury," says Jennifer O'Dell, of the Laborers' International Union of North America.
Boards are so generous that perks alone can add up to more than what most people make in a lifetime, points out Stephen Lerner, a former union organizer for the Service Employees International Union. Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com (AMZN) and Larry Ellison at Oracle (ORCL), both multibillionaires, each got more than $1.5 million for home security alone. "It is obscene," says Lerner, who adds, "CEOs are the new royalty."