If you happen to be a billionaire or corporate Fat Cat, you may have noticed a mob assembled near your headquarters or home recently. You may not know what they’re protesting exactly; you might even joke that perhaps this has something to do with why they are unemployed. But when it comes to their complaint that the rich have been getting richer while things keep getting worse for the poor, downtrodden and unemployed, you gotta admit, they have a point.
While the stagnant economy continues to hurt those at the bottom of the American workforce, there’s plenty of money for the .0001 percent at the top. (The compensation totals, compiled by Forbes’ stats guru Scott DeCarlo, include salary, bonuses, perks and the value of exercised stock options through Sept. 6. Sources are CompuStat ExecuComp and SEC filings).
Compensation for the chief executives of America’s biggest corporations is way up in 2011, 28 percent higher than last year on average, according to GovernanceMetrics International. If you were already in the top quartile of high-paid plutocrats, your comp nearly doubled. Cash bonuses are triple what they were before the recession.
But the Occupy Wall Street protesters are in the wrong place to picket the titans on this list. Wall Street is conspicuously absent from the top 10. The highest paid “bankster” is Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, who comes in 12th at $42 million, while Larry Fink of BlackRock is 16th at $39.9 million. Goldman Sachs‘ Lloyd Blankfein is way down at $21.7 million.
Many other bank chiefs are also below the S&P 500 CEO average — which for 2010 was $12 million, down 20 percent from 2007 levels. Bank of America‘s Brian Moynihan and Citigroup‘s Vikram Pandit are barely worth agitating against at $2.3 million and $1.3 million, respectively.
ObamaCare could end up helping three of the top-10 improve their lot in years to come. The top spot goes to John Hammergren of McKesson, the largest distributor of both pharmaceuticals and health care I.T. systems. It’s thought to be in a good position to benefit from President Obama’s health care overhaul. With compensation of $131 million this year (most of it from exercising stock options), Hammergren won’t have to worry about waiting in line to see a doctor. Same goes for George Paz (fifth place at $51.5 million), who runs prescription drug distributor ExpressScripts as well as Stephen Hemsley (eighth place at $48.8) of UnitedHealth Group.
Polo sold enough shirts and chinos to pay Ralph Lauren $66.7 million — ranking him in second place on our list of top-paid CEOs. Still, the company’s proxy says his perks in 2011 will be $344,000 less than last year, as “the corporation will no longer provide Mr. Lauren with unlimited reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of his use of private aircraft for personal travel.” They’ve capped that perk at $200,000 a year.
Michael Fascitelli of Vornado Realty is third, with compensation of $64.4 million. Bob Iger of Walt Disney (still enjoying the fruits of his Pixar acquisition) took in $53.3 million, is in fourth place.
Some among the top-10 are real standouts, like Michael Watford of Ultra Petroleum, at $43.7 million. Watford has had a great few years finding and developing oil and gas in places like Pennsylvania and Colorado, but the company he runs (market cap $4.5 billion) is far smaller than those of his pay peers, and Ultra shares are down by a third in the past year. Compared to Watford, ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson, who didn’t crack the top 25, sounds like a real bargain. The Big Oil chief made just $13.9 million.
© 2012 Forbes.com