A study undertaken by New York-based Conference Board, found the biggest increases in executive pay were in the energy and construction industries, where average pay grew by 22% and 32% respectively.
CEOs of energy companies took home an average wage of $1.6m (£1m), while those in construction took home $1.5m. The biggest earning sector was financial services where the average pay to chief executives was $1.9m.
The results of the survey were for 2001 and so did not take into account the full effect of the collapse of Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia in a heap of accounting scandals or the subsequent introduction of new regulations to improve transparency.
But corporate governance experts were disappointed with the findings, given the decline in the stock market and the general business decline.
‘When earnings and stock prices go down, so should salaries, even those of CEOs,’ said Charles Elson, director of the Center for Corporate Governance.
Charles Peck, a compensation specialist at the Conference Board, told AP, ‘The impact of today’s government regulation will be best seen in next year’s numbers.’
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