Go ahead--give yourself that raise. Everyone else is. Last year, pay hikes for CEOs at small and medium-sized companies ranged from 10% to 17%, depending on region. (The Northeast was highest, the South lowest.) At businesses with sales of less than $10 million, direct compensation for the boss averaged $142,000 at companies that didn't offer bonuses, according to Segal Co., which tracks officer compensation. Howard Goldstein, a co-author of the annual study, attributes the big raises to the overall growth of the economy. In fact, he was somewhat surprised that bonuses--which averaged $88,000--weren't higher.
The study notes packages were even more generous at the minority of companies that were publicly held. Not only did those bosses benefit handsomely from stock options but they also awarded themselves 40% more in direct compensation than private CEOs. Did they deserve it? Maybe not. Segal says the average pretax profit at private companies was double the level at public ones.