Apple CEO Steve Jobs became the highest paid executive in the US for the second quarter 2002, according to the latest Executive Compensation Index from the Economic Research Institute.

Famously, Jobs draws no annual salary – but this was offset by his $43,511,534 bonus in the quarter, the Institute reports.

Jobs’ fortunes contrast favourably with those of other executives surveyed – the highest paid saw a 1.9 per cent decrease in their compensation in that quarter. In the same quarter last year, America’s corporate fat cats saw a 15.7 per cent increase in their compensation, year-on-year.

At risk of causing comment from shareholders, executive compensation has not fallen as rapidly as company revenues, which fell 2.1 per cent in the second quarter, the Institute points out.

The Executive Compensation Index tracks the cash compensation (salary and bonus) for high-paid executives at 45 major US firms. It also looks at how compensation changes correlate to a company’s annual revenues.

“Until the economy starts to improve, we don’t foresee an increase in overall executive pay,” said Dr David Thomsen, director of the Institute. “Rising company revenues and increases in executive compensation will be signs of an economic recovery.”

More information regarding the survey is available online.