As outlined in a previous post, “Is CEO Base Pay Dropping?,” executive compensation packages have changed in recent years due to cost-control measures. While some companies have reduced or eliminated several components of executive compensation, it appears that base salaries are continuing to increase among top positions.

Using the same methodology from the analysis of base pay of Chief Executive Officers (CEO), salary data of Chief Operating Officers (COO) reported on proxy statements from the last two reported years were mined.

The final analysis includes 144 industries for 2,901 COOs. Overall, COO pay increased, on average, 11% for the most recent reported fiscal year. Only seven industries showed a decrease in COO pay, with the biggest drop being just under 6%. The remaining 137 industries all saw COO pay increasing. The top 10 industries are shown below.

COO by Industry Salary Change
Industrial, Agricultural and other Chemical Production (2860)


Toys and Sporting Goods Manufacturing (3940)


Nonferrous Metal Manufacturing (3350)


Chemical Merchant Wholesalers (5160)


Commercial Lending and Business Banking (6150)


Aerospace and Defense (3720)


Medical, Dental and Disability Insurance Plans (6320)


Coal Mining Support Activities (1240)


Crude Petroleum Extraction (1310)


Securities Brokerage Firms (6210)


As was observed with the CEO analysis, manufacturing industries comprise 4 of the top 10. Unlike the CEO analysis, finance/insurance industries are also well represented in this list. Additionally, there were no service industries in the top 10. Given recent profits in the oil business, it is not surprising to find mining industries in this list. Noticeably absent is the health care industry. Recent recession data has suggested that health care is one of the few unaffected areas for employment. That may be the case when it comes to job retention, but it does not appear to translate to higher increases, at least not at the executive level.