06/18/2012 11:20 am ET

CEO Pay Jumped 5 Percent Last Year For Highest-Compensated Executives

It seems nothing can stop the rise of the executive paycheck.

Pay among the United States' 200 highest-compensated CEOs jumped 5 percent last year, according to a recent analysis published in The New York Times.

In the same period, wages for the average worker grew by only 2.8 percent. A record number of Americans are now living in poverty. And many earn such a modest salary that they have hardly anything set aside for emergencies -- and could could find themselves in financial ruin with just one stroke of bad luck.

President Obama said in December that this kind of income inequality "distorts our democracy" and followed up, in his State of the Union address a few weeks later, by urging policymakers not to "settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by."

Income inequality has been even greater under Obama than it was during the presidency of George W. Bush.

It's no secret that the very richest Americans have been pulling ahead of everyone else for decades now. And that's not a trend without consequence. A growing body of research suggests that the ever-widening pay gap could threaten whatever modest progress the U.S. economy has made in recovering from the Great Recession.