Executive Pay Falls In 2009

Average base salary of a Chief Executive Officer in the United States is $346,000 -- decreasing by 9.3 percent from a year ago.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Over the last year, executive salaries have come under a firestorm of criticism from the media, politicians and the public alike.  As a result of the negative publicity, companies have been put in the unique position of trying to develop compensation plans that will motivate and retain top employees while avoiding public outcry. Executive Compensation 2009/2010 reports the average base salary of a Chief Executive Officer is $346,600.

Although executive pay has steadily increased over the last several years, it took a downward turn in 2009.  Since 2008, the average base salary of a CEO in the United States has decreased by 9.3 percent.  Chief Operating Officers currently earn $214,700, 11 percent less than last year. Chief Information Officers saw a decrease of 2.1 percent to $175,300.  The average base salary of Chief Financial Officers remained stable in 2009, with a slight increase of less than 1 percent.

"The attention executive pay has garnered over the past year is challenging companies to make drastic changes to the overall design of executive compensation packages," said Amy Kaminski, manager of marketing programs for Compdata Surveys, the nation's leading compensation and benefits survey data provider. "While greater emphasis will be placed on sustaining long-term growth, companies must maintain some semblance of balance between long and short-term incentives in order to avoid losing key employees, and their knowledge, to a competitor."

Average base salaries differ by company size as CEOs at companies with over 5,000 employees earn $542,300. CEOs at organizations with 501 to 1,000 employees are paid $361,300, compared to companies with 201 to 500 employees, $300,800. CEOs at organizations with fewer than 100 employees earn $264,700.

According to the newly released results, executive compensation also varies by industry. The average base salary of a Chief Financial Officer in the insurance industry is $232,200, while CFOs in healthcare earn $208,900. The utilities industry pays their CFOs $194,900 on average, compared to those in banking and finance, $191,500.  CFOs earn the least in the not-for-profit industry, $173,900. 

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