CEO salaries drop 6% across Northwest

SEATTLE — Northwest executive pay has decreased in the past year in a reflection of the economic downturn.

Median pay for the chief executives of publicly traded companies in Oregon, Washington and Idaho dropped 6 percent this past year to $1.18 million, an analysis by The Seattle Times found.

The decrease in Northwest CEO pay came after several straight years of steep increases.

The top-paid CEO in the region still made more than $13 million last year, but the person on top in 2007 made nearly three times as much. And some Northwest CEOs who qualified for bonuses last year declined them anyway because of the recession.

Lower pay for Northwest CEOs was part of a national trend: Median compensation for CEOs of the 500 largest U.S. companies fell 7.5 percent last year to $8 million, according to Equilar, an executive-compensation research firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, which analyzed pay for The Seattle Times.

Pay is the sum of salary, bonuses, stock and options awards given during the year, and "other," which can include the cost of a health-club membership, car allowance, security detail or private use of a corporate jet.

Median bonuses fell 41 percent last year as profits decreased by a median 23 percent among Northwest companies whose CEOs were in place for both 2007 and 2008.

Paccar CEO Mark Pigott topped this year's regional list with total compensation of $13.8 million, a 46 percent pay raise from 2007.

His pay went up because he bought stock in early 2008 and received a $6.4 million match from the company. Yet that match won't vest until 2013, and only then if Paccar stacks up well against its rivals.

About 375 publicly held companies in the United States have reduced salaries for top executives in the past year, according to Equilar.

They run the gamut from a 10 percent reduction for the CEO of American Express to a salary of just $1 for the head of General Motors.

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