Average total compensation for CEOs of S&P 500 index companies dipped in 2022 to $16.7 million from a record $18.3 million in 2021 according to the AFL-CIO's Executive Paywatch website.
That represents the second-highest level of executive pay and a $5 million increase in average pay over the past decade, the labor organization said, noting that workers' real hourly wages fell 1.6% last year after adjusting for inflation.
While the latest increase was 9% vs. 18% in the previous year, "it didn't fall nearly as much as stock prices fell," said Brandon Rees, deputy director of corporations and capital markets for the AFL-CIO, during a news briefing. The dip reflects a recent preference among CEOs for restricted stock instead of stock options, Mr. Rees said.
Topping the list of highest-paid CEOs is Blackstone Chairman and CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman, whose total compensation last year was $253 million, representing a CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 1,068-to-1, according to the website.
The average CEO-to-worker pay ratio for the S&P 500 companies in 2022 was 272-to-1, down from 324-to-1 last year.
"It's important for investors to consider the median pay as well as the pay ratio, and whether the company is investing in the workforce broadly," Mr. Rees said.
The searchable database uses corporate proxy statements filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Total compensation includes salary, bonuses, stock options and restricted stock, retirement plan contributions and other incentives.
The labor organization is highlighting the role of artificial intelligence in this year's Executive Paywatch report, said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond during the news briefing. While it presents opportunities and potential productivity gains, "if left unchecked, it could increase economic disparity and job insecurity," Mr. Redmond said.
The website tracks how the 10 highest-paid CEOs in 2022 are using AI. "Two of the top 10 lost their say-on-pay votes this year," Mr. Rees said.