The 20 U.S. financial companies that got the biggest government bailouts awarded their top five executive officers pay packages worth a combined $3.2 billion in the three years before the start of the financial crisis, according to a study.

The review by the Institute For Policy Studies came as financial-industry pay at some companies has come under White House scrutiny. Seven banks and industrial companies that got significant bailouts had to submit proposals for their compensation packages, and some in Congress have been weighing various pay restrictions.

The study examined executive compensation before the financial crisis, which began its most turbulent phase in September 2008. It found that 100 executives with the financial companies averaged $32 million in compensation during the three years.

"One hundred U.S. workers making the 2008 annual average wage would have to labor for more than 1,000 years to make as much as these 100 executives made in three," the institute said.

Chief executives at the 20 companies, which received a combined $283 billion in federal aid, averaged compensation of $13.8 million last year, the study said. This was 37% above the average for S&P 500 companies.

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