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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Many corporate boards made mid-pandemic changes to the intricate formulas that determine CEO pay, with directors declaring that COVID was an extraordinary event beyond executives' control, AP reports.

Why it matters: As a result, pay packages rose last year for CEOs of the biggest companies, even though the pandemic sent the economy to its worst quarter on record.

The median pay package for a CEO at an S&P 500 company hit $12.7 million in 2020, according to data analyzed for AP by Equilar. (That means half of the 342 CEOs in the survey made more, and half made less.)

  • 61% of the CEOs got a boost in compensation last year.

How it works: Several CEOs took high-profile salary cuts as an act of shared sacrifice. Roughly one of every five CEOs in this year’s survey had a smaller salary for 2020 than the year before.

  • But salary is often a minor piece of a CEO’s total compensation, which is derived from notoriously complex formulas. Each year, companies fill pages of their proxy statements with charts and footnotes showing how the bulk of their CEO’s pay rises and falls with corporate performance.
  • That nuanced area is where many companies adjusted levers.

Go deeper

Sep 4, 2021 - Health

Biden's high-stakes booster tension with Moderna

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A disagreement between the Biden administration and Moderna over booster shot details has thrown a wrench in the administration's plans, and may result in the booster effort beginning with only some Pfizer recipients later this month.

Why it matters: How the dispute shakes out could have implications for the global vaccine supply chain — as well as for Moderna's bottom line.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers — CDC director approves Pfizer boosters, adds eligibility for high-risk workers — FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up.
  2. Health: America's mismatched COVID fears — Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion — Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Kentucky governor calls state lawmakers into special session on COVID

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear at the University of Louisville Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, in April. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Gov. Andy Beshear is calling Kentucky's GOP-led legislature into a special session next week on policies to address surging COVID-19 cases in the state.

Why it matters: The Democratic governor had imposed a series of emergency pandemic measures, but the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled last month that a lower court had incorrectly blocked state Republicans from limiting his executive authority.