Compensation among outside directors at the country's largest corporations faced modest gains for the second successive year, suggesting salary increases for these positions are back to prerecession levels, according to an annual analysis by global professional services company Towers Watson.

Additionally, the analysis reveals that while overall pay levels held mostly stable, companies are still looking to improve their director pay packages' designs, which is attributed to internal and external pressures. In 2011, compensation for directors rose 5 percent from 2010, similar to the 6 percent median increase in 2010. The higher compensation is mostly due to increasing levels of stock compensation as a mirror of growing stock prices for many U.S. companies in 2011.

According to the analysis, total direct compensation jumped in 2011 to a median value of $220,000, marking a 5 percent increase from $210,266 in 2010. The analysis defines total compensation as cash pay and annual or recurring stock awards. Equity award values also grew, hitting $124,986 in 2011 from $114,728 in 2010 for a 9 percent increase, and cash compensation rose by nearly 4 percent to $92,500 in 2011 from $89,000 in 2010. Pay mix contained about the same combination of compensation as in 2010. Fifty-five percent of director pay stemmed from equity in 2011, and the remaining 45 percent was from cash.

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