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Wall Street Bonuses Compared to Minimum Wage Earners

The following article was written for Institute for Policy Studies by Sarah Anderson

Off the Deep End: The Wall Street Bonus Pool and Low-Wage Workers

Wall Street banks handed out $28.5 billion in bonuses to their 167,800 employees last year, up 3 percent over 2013, according to new figures from the New York State Comptroller. These annual bonuses are an extra reward on top of base salaries in the securities industry, which averaged$190,970 in 2013.

To put these figures in perspective, we’ve compared the Wall Street payout to low-wage workers’ earnings. We’ve also calculated how much more of a national economic boost would be gained if similar sums were funneled into the pockets of the millions of workers on the bottom end of the pay scale.

For full sources and methodology, download the full report [PDF].

Wall Street Bonuses v. Minimum Wage Earners

The $28.5 billion in bonuses doled out to Wall Street employees is double the annual pay for all 1,007,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Wall Street bonuses rose 3 percent last year, despite a 4.5 percent decline in industry profits. The size of the bonus pool was 27% higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage.

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