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The Minimum Wage Would Be $33 If It Kept Pace With Wall Street Bonuses

Most Americans know that being one of the top dogs on Wall Street means taking home massive annual bonuses — but it’s likely most don’t realize just how massive these are, especially compared to what the average American takes home.

For several years now, groups like Fight for 15 have been pushing for raising minimum wages across the country to $15 an hour — more than double the current federal minimum wage. An illuminating new study, however, finds that were the federal minimum wage to increase to keep pace with the growth in bonuses dolled out on Wall Street, it would be at more than $33 an hour today.

According to the report from the Institute for Policy Studies, since 1998 Wall Street bonuses have risen an incredible 52 percent on average to $153,700 in 2018. This actually marked a 17 percent decline compared to 2017 bonuses, but still accounted for a combined $27.5 billion — over triple the total combined income for all 640,000 full-time workers in the United States earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Let’s also take into account that these tremendous bonuses are given out on top of enormous salaries. In 2017, when the most recent data was available, Wall Street workers took home an average salary of $422,500.

The report finds that the largest bonuses were given to white men working on Wall Street; this is also true for bonus recipients, in general, on Wall Street. But this isn’t particularly surprising, when looking at how gender is distributed among minimum income jobs versus securities positions — men make up just 37 percent of the former but claim two-thirds of the latter.

It doesn’t take an economics degree to realize that these massive rifts in pay and who gets the largest pay is indicative of the rapid income and wealth inequality spreading throughout the United States. But what’s being done about it?

One of the key components of Dodd-Frank, a bill aimed at tackling the root causes of the 2008 recession, was putting a cap on take-home pay for individuals on Wall Street. However, since it was passed in 2010, the federal government has, clearly, failed to enforce these regulations. Between this impotency and an utter lack of interest in raising the federal minimum wage — a problem a handful of states have taken it upon themselves to address — illustrates where Congress’ interest lay: With the wealthy and not with the average American worker.

This article was originally published on on April 4, 2019.

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Writing about various things (mostly politics & social issues) for more than six years. Freelancer for hire.

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