The salaries of corporate CEOs in the U.S. have ballooned so ridiculously in the past 50 years that the average chief executive now pulls down roughly 237 times what the average American worker collects, or as much money in one day as many employees earn in one year.

And that figure will likely get higher as CEO pay continues to increase, economic meltdowns be darned. The latest report shows that chief executive salaries rose 16 percent last year. Oracle’s Larry Ellison was the highest paid CEO in 2012, raking in a whopping $96 million, while ConocoPhillips’ James Mulva was given the biggest “exit bonus,” a staggering $156 million.

Little wonder then that wealth disparity is already so great in this country. And if figures like these continue to hold–and there’s no indication that they won’t–wealth inequality unfortunately is likely to get only worse in America. (For more on wealth inequality in the U.S., watch this video released earlier this year.)

The Contributor:

Average salary for the CEOs of the top 200 U.S. companies with revenue of over $1 billion was $5.3 million. The big money, however, is paid out in stock and options which added another $9 million to the median compensation package for the CEOs.

Worst off were the workers at these companies whose median pay is now at a historic low compared to the CEOs. In 1965, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, the average CEO made 20 times the average worker. Now the ratio is 273 to 1 ie the average CEO’s daily salary is now greater than the annual salary of their workers.

…Take for example, James Mulva of ConocoPhillips. He was paid $140.8 million in 2011 but topped that in 2012 when he left the company after 10 years as CEO. Once he cashed out his stock options, took his retirement bonus and got his final paycheck, he collected a whopping $260 million in 2012.

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— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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