Great ResignationDiversity and InclusionCompensationCEO DailyCFO DailyModern Board

CEO pay is skyrocketing as the average worker struggles to keep up with inflation. Here’s who got the biggest raises.

April 4, 2022, 5:42 PM UTC

The rich got richer in 2021, as the median pay for the nation’s CEOs is on pace to set a record this year, up a whopping 19% over the year before. 

Just one year after many CEOs took pay cuts amid the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, median pay rose to $14.2 million last year for chief executives of S&P 500 companies, according to MyLogIQ LLC, which tracks salary data from companies.

While not every CEO saw an increase—roughly a quarter of the CEOs took a pay cut in 2021—the majority saw their salary rise by at least 11% and nearly one-third saw salary hikes of at least 25%, according to The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of MyLogIQ’s data. 

Adjusted for inflation, which is currently at its highest point in 40 years, the raise for CEOs in 2021 was only about 1.3% over the previous year, according to an analysis from economics blogger Kevin Drum. 

Several CEOs’ salaries grew to astronomical rates in 2021. At roughly $247 million, Discovery Inc.’s David Zaslav had the highest salary disclosed so far, followed closely behind by Amazon’s Andy Jassy at nearly $213 million.

Compensation figures for CEOs consist of salary, stock rewards and cash bonuses, the latter two of which were responsible for the bulk of CEOs’ pay increases, according to a Fortune analysis of 2021 executive pay, conducted by Compensation Advisory Partners (CAP). 

The majority of both Zaslav and Jassy’s salaries are tied up in restricted stock-option awards, according to the Wall Street Journal’s reporting

Record high CEO salary increases come amid an economic bounceback in 2021, including a roaring stock market that saw the S&P 500 rise 27% last year. But employees at many of the top companies haven’t had the same luck. 

While CEOs salaries rose 19% in 2021, the average hourly wage in the U.S. rose just 4.7% last year, according to the Labor Department—not enough to keep up with inflation that many analysts predict will remain elevated and likely worsen in the months to come.

At Discovery, Zaslav’s pay is nearly 3,000 times the median salary at the company, which the company reported was $82,964 in 2021. 

At Amazon, the wage gap is far higher. Jassy’s 2021 salary is roughly 6,500 times the $32,855 median Amazon worker salary. 

Low wages at the company have contributed to workers at factories across the country voting to unionize. Last week, over 8,300 Amazon workers at a Staten Island facility known as JFK8 voted to join the independent Amazon Labor Union. Similar efforts to unionize have been ongoing at other Amazon plants in New York and Alabama, among others.  

At the time of publication, neither Amazon nor Discovery responded to Fortune’s request for comment.  

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.