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Illinois CEOs Earned 3.5% More than National Average

Sept. 10, 2012
Investing, Investments
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A new study by NerdWallet examined the pay of Illinois CEOs running some of America’s largest corporations.  The study finds that the CEOs of S&P500 companies based in Illinois were paid an average of $13.3 million in 2011, 3.5% more than the national average of $12.8 million.

Greg Brown of Motorola Solutions took home the biggest pay package with $29.3 million.  On the other end of the spectrum, Stericycle’s CEO, Mark Miller, was paid the least of any CEO in the group, with a total compensation of only $4.3 million.

S&P500 Companies in Illinois, Ranked by CEO Compensation


Rank Company CEO 2011 Compensation Headquarters
1 Motorola Solutions, Inc. Gregory Q. Brown $29,329,052 Schaumburg
2 Abbott Laboratories Miles D. White $24,010,902 Abbott Park
3 Beam, Inc. Bruce Carbonari $23,260,224 Deerfield
4 Boeing Co. W. James McNerney Jr. $22,958,313 Chicago
5 Kraft Foods Irene Rosenfeld $21,944,694 Northfield
6 Deere & Co. Samuel R. Allen $18,802,364 Moline
7 Ventas, Inc. Debra Cafaro $18,498,831 Chicago
8 Caterpillar, Inc. Douglas R. Oberhelman $16,902,023 Peoria
9 Northern Trust Corp. Frederick H. Waddell $14,305,400 Chicago
10 Baxter International Robert L. Parkinson, Jr. $14,065,479 Deerfield
11 Discover Financial Services David W. Nelms $13,890,296 Riverwoods
12 Illinois Tool Works, Inc. David B. Speer $12,499,367 Glenview
13 Hospira, Inc. F. Michael Ball $12,337,007 Lake Forest
14 Walgreen’s Gregory D. Wasson $12,116,245 Deerfield
15 Aon Corporation Gregory C. Case $12,017,531 Chicago
16 Exelon Corporation John W. Rowe $11,716,004 Chicago
17 Equity Residential David J. Neithercut $11,307,446 Chicago
18 Allstate Corporation Thomas J. Wilson $11,179,816 Northbrook
19 Archer Daniels Midland Co. Patricia Woertz $11,079,862 Decatur
20 Dover Corporation Robert A. Livingston $10,914,685 Downers Grove
21 Molex, Inc. Martin P. Slark $10,388,719 Lisle
22 Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. Stephen W. Golsby $10,296,458 Glenview
23 W.W. Grainger James T. Ryan $9,198,031 Lake Forest
24 McDonald’s Corporation James A. Skinner $8,750,893 Oak Brook
25 CF Industries Holdings Stephen R. Wilson $7,118,097 Deerfield
26 Integrys Energy Group Charles A. Schrock $6,269,965 Chicago
27 DeVry, Inc. Daniel Hamburger $6,136,156 Downers Grove
28 R.R. Donnelley & Sons Thomas J. Quinlan $6,059,714 Chicago
29 Chicago Mercantile Exchange Craig S. Donohue $6,000,074 Chicago
30 Stericycle, Inc. Mark C. Miller $4,262,104 Lake Forest

How Do Illinois Executives Compare?

The average compensation of the Illinois-based CEOs was 3.5% greater than the national average, but Illinois was not the highest compensated state.  This honor went to nearby Indiana, with average compensation exceeding $33 million.  In all, five states had higher average CEO pay in 2011 than Illinois, including New York and California where 10% of CEOs work.

The following table lists the ten states with the highest average executive pay.  Each state’s average was determined using at least five companies.

Top 10 States According to Average Compensation of S&P500 Executives:

State Average Compensation in 2011
Indiana $33,242,391.67
California $21,217,046.20
New York $16,580,626.65
Maryland $16,421,480.63
Arizona $14,429,735.00
Illinois $12,945,445.78
Connecticut $12,528,214.06
Arkansas $12,345,602.75
New Jersey $12,125,327.90
Georgia $11,901,875.71


Illinois also exceeded national averages in female CEO pay.  The median compensation for female CEOs of S&P500 companies in the United States was $11.1 million last year while in Illinois the median female CEO was paid $18.5 million.

Why is Compensation in Illinois Greater Than Many Other States?

  • Cost of Living has a significant impact. 90% of the companies are located in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. The cost of living index in Chicago is 116.2 (with 100 being the U.S. metro average). Similarly, San Francisco and New York have higher costs of living (163.2 and 233.5, accordingly) , and have higher average executive pay.
  • Current compensation rates may be artificially high. Until January of 2011, Illinois had one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the U.S., at just 4.8%. Theoretically, this allowed companies to pass along greater amounts of their revenues to employees and investors. However, the state temporarily raised their corporate tax rate to 7%, which has made it less competitive. According to Connie Beard, tax director for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, “It’s a significant deterrent to encouraging business location in Illinois.” Therefore, in coming years, we might begin to see a decrease in the compensation figures of Illinois executives.