Last year was an awful one for many on Wall Street. But not everyone struggled. Some even partied like it was 2006.

In fact, for the 50 people ranked in Bloomberg Markets' annual list of the best-paid chief executives in finance, 2011 was nothing to complain about. Those 50 people saw their pay rise by an average of 20.4 percent, even as Wall Street shed tens of thousands of workers, bank shares plunged and the greater economy foundered.

To be sure, it wasn't a banner year for everyone on the Street. Younger workers especially have had to contend with layoffs and the threat of pay freezes, creating an uncertain atmosphere that has sent many millennials looking for work elsewhere.

But for bankers with better job security, 2011 offered plenty of reasons to smile. In one survey, more than half of financial workers said their salaries went up in 2011. Bonuses didn't fall nearly as much as anyone expected. And compensation at a number of major banks even approached record levels.

The growing pay for top Wall Street CEOs also bested a more general rise in executive fortunes. On average, pay for CEOs at public companies rose by 6 percent in 2011, according to the Associated Press -- even though wages for ordinary workers remained mostly flat.

That, of course, fits in with the ongoing trend of widening income inequality, which has been steadily growing more and more pronounced over the last three decades.