For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


  • 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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest