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CEO Pay Grew 127 Times Faster Than Worker Pay Over Last 30 Years: Study

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James Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co., speaks at the Securities Industry and Financial Marketers Association, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009 in New York.
James Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co., speaks at the Securities Industry and Financial Marketers Association, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009 in New York.

It's good to be chief executive.

American CEOs saw their pay spike 15 percent last year, after a 28 percent pay rise the year before, according to a report by GMI Ratings cited by The Guardian. Meanwhile, workers saw their inflation-adjusted wages fall 2 percent in 2011, according to the Labor Department.

That's in line with a trend that dates back three decades. CEO pay spiked 725 percent between 1978 and 2011, while worker pay rose just 5.7 percent, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute released on Wednesday. That means CEO pay grew 127 times faster than worker pay.

Income inequality between CEOs and workers has consequently exploded, with CEOs last year earning 209.4 times more than workers, compared to just 26.5 times more in 1978 -- meaning CEOs are taking home a larger percentage of company gains.

That trend comes despite workers nearly doubling their productivity during the same time period, when compensation barely rose. Worker productivity spiked 93 percent between 1978 and 2011 on a per-hour basis, and 85 percent on a per-person basis, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Meanwhile, workers saw their inflation-adjusted wages fall in recent years as corporations postponed giving raises while adding to their record corporate profits.

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