• In 2004, the average salary for top CEOs was $11.8 million, 431 times that of the average worker; in 1980, it was 42 times more.
  • Last year, top executives got an average raise of 15%, while workers got 2.9%.
  • 23% of CEO pay—some $26 billion—is tied to cash bonuses.
  • Among companies where execs get 92% or more of their pay in stock-option gains, about one-fifth will cook the books within five years.
  • Wal-Mart’s CEO earned $12.6 million in cash and $4.5 million in stock options last year; Costco’s CEO got $578,000 in cash and $25.3 million in stock. Costco’s $16-an-hour starting wage—two-thirds more than Wal-Mart’s average wage—has been criticized by Wall Street analysts as “overly generous.” 
  • The president of Morgan Stanley quit after 15 weeks with $32 million, or $26,666 an hour, if he worked 80-hour weeks.
  • Chief executives in the struggling auto industry have a median income of $4.2 million, up 72% from 2003.
  • Viacom gave its top exec a 58% raise even as its stock fell 18% last year.
  • Among the perks of the J. Paul Getty Trust’s CEO: a $72,000 Porsche SUV with the “biggest possible sunroof.” Among his staff’s duties: finding his wife “her Tropicana blood orange juice, no pulp, not from concentrate,” which she “saw in Europe.”
  • Martha Stewart once expensed haircuts, coffee, snacks, and a $17,000 trip to Mexico.
  • In 1997, Delta Air Lines agreed to pay its departing CEO a $500,000 annual “consulting salary” for eight years, on top of $4.5 million in severance, a company car, private-club dues, and a secretary.
  • Jack Welch’s perks from General Electric included wine, vitamins, and toiletries for life.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.