$555,816 is the average total pay of the highest-paid chief executive at companies with operations in New Mexico that filed annual reports for 2010 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

$5.9 million is the average net loss at those same companies.

" If you have a company and you do well and you make a bonus, that makes sense; everybody gets that. But if you have a company that goes into the toilet and loses jobs and loses profit, and you still get a big bonus, people are scratching their heads, going, ‘WTF?’"—Santa Fe dentist Leslie Lakind, a self-described concerned citizen

On April 9, The New York Times published an article heralding the return of the gilded age for high-profile executives.

"At a time when millions of Americans are trying to hang on to homes and millions more are trying to hang on to jobs, the chief executives of major corporations are making as much today as they were before the recession hit," the article says.

SFR researched more than 500 companies with operations in New Mexico that registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission at some point during the past decade. Only 12 filed 10-Ks, the annual reports required of large public companies, for 2010—including three mining outfits, two medical technology companies, a utility company and a bank.

Though only one of those companies saw its net income rise in 2010, four of 11 executives—one company had not yet filed its executive compensation data—saw salary increases in 2010. Among them was PNM Resources, which, despite hefty losses, increased compensation for its CEO, Patricia Collawn. (This coincided with Collawn's promotion to CEO in 2010.)

At other firms, such as the mortgage lender PSM Holdings, Inc., executives were just as richly rewarded. PSM CEO Jeffrey Smith earned $2 million in 2010, up from a comparatively meager $113,550 in 2009—even as his company's net losses swelled from $674,224 in 2009 to nearly $4.4 million in 2010.

Two executives—both with mining companies—recorded zero pay in 2010.