You'll Wish Wall Street Set the Minimum Wage

Not everyone is cut out for Wall Street, and frankly not everyone on Wall Street should be there either. It's undeniable, however, that the perks are amazing. You might work outrageously, unsustainably hard, but you'll get paid handsomely for that work.


This week, the Institute for Policy Studies broke down some data from New York State Comptroller on financial industry bonuses from 2018. The findings are mind-blowing: "The total bonus pool for 181,300 New York City-based Wall Street employees was $27.5 billion — more than three times the combined annual earnings of all 640,000 U.S. workers employed full-time (at least 35 hours) at the federal minimum wage."

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Right now, the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, though the number varies widely in certain cities and states. Nationally, the minimum wage is not sufficient to support renting a two-bedroom family home or apartment, and rather than shiftless teenagers, most minimum-wage workers are single parents or women over the age of 25. Studies have shown huge improvements in quality of life when minimum wage rises by just one dollar. That's where the Institute for Policy Studies' report comes in.


"Since 1985, the average Wall Street bonus has increased 1,000 percent, from $13,970 to $153,700," writes editor and director Sarah Anderson. "If the minimum wage had increased at that rate, it would be worth $33.51 today, instead of $7.25."

Investment bankers are not doing one thousand times the work they were in the mid-'80s. And in 1985, the federal minimum wage was, adjusted for inflation, exactly the same as it is today. If this statistic makes you feel some kind of way, it's never a bad time to bother your state, local, and federal elected officials about it.