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October 26, 2004
CEO Compensation Rising

Median total compensation for chief executive officers in the United States was higher in all industries in 2003, according to a study by the Conference Board.

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Total CEO compensation (salary, bonus, and long-term compensation) was highest in the construction industry at $2,968,000. It was lowest in transportation at $988,000. Total current compensation (salary plus bonus) was also highest in construction at $2,445,000 and lowest in transportation at $646,000. Communications paid the highest median salary, $648,000. Lowest was telecommunications, which paid $405,000., according to the report

"There was generally good profit performance in 2003," says Charles Peck, the board's compensation specialist and author of the report. "As a result, annual bonus plans, which are based on profitability, paid off well in many cases."

Stock-option grants declined in 2003, but restricted-stock grants, which are often tied to performance, rose in 2003.

The report is based on data from 2,986 U.S. companies in 14 major industries and reports the compensation paid to the five highest-paid executives.

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