Updated: 11:19 AM PDT, March 30, 2021
Imagine if the minimum wage was $44 per hour not the $12.50 to $15 per hour most individuals earn? That would be the minimum wage ‘today’ if it had grown the same rate as Wall Street bonuses, according to new data released by the New York State comptroller’s office.
Wall Street bonuses have increased by 1,217% since 1985, or about 10 times the pace for minimum-wage workers, during the same stretch, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a left-leaning think tank that examines income and pay inequality, CBS News reported.
It has been 11 years since the last federal minimum-wage increase. The $7.25-an-hour rate that started July 24, 2009, is the longest span the baseline wage has gone since its inception in 1938, according to a report.
Not only has the cost of living increased by 20%, but the price of essentials such as housing and health care have also increased even faster. Today, a worker must earn almost $20 an hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, according to a July study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, CBS previously reported.
Many low-wage workers with little financial flexibility or savings have been hit the hardest amid the pandemic this year that resulted in a recession and double-digit unemployment. Even so, the stock market continues to hit new records as the disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street grows.
On Friday, New York’s State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a press release that Wall Street firms paid their New York City-based traders an average bonus of $184,000 last year, a 10% increase from 2019, the Business Insider reported.
As President Biden continues to work on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, part of his American Rescue Plan to tackle the pandemic, bring people above the poverty line and revitalize the economy, lawmakers are resistant.
“The fact that people on Wall Street saw such a significant jump in a year when so many people are struggling says so much about the disparities of this crisis,” Sarah Anderson, IPS’ global economy project director and the author of the analysis, said.
Anderson told the Insider. ”It’s just another reminder that there’s a total disconnect between what happens on Wall Street and what happens in people’s everyday lives and in the real economy.”
According to the report, an hourly wage of $44 an hour would equate to more than $91,000 in annual income — a healthy income, but still far below the average annual earnings of $406,700 for securities professionals, a figure that includes salary and annual bonuses, CBS reported.
The IPS analysis pointed out that on Wall Street, the people who are enjoying bumps to their bonuses tend to be white and male, CBS reported
“The growing gap between the pay on Wall Street and lower levels of the economy is a driving force between gender and racial disparities,” Anderson said. “People of color and women are under-represented at the top end and over-represented at the bottom.”