Skip to content Skip to footer

Wall Street Bonuses Double Full-Time Minimum Wage Worker Earnings

Wall Street bonuses totaled $28.5 billion in 2014 u2014double the annual earnings of more than 1 million American full-time minimum wage workers.

Wall Street bonuses totaled $28.5 billion in 2014 —double the combined annual earnings of the more than 1 million American full-time minimum wage workers, according to an Institute for Policy Studies analysis of New York State Comptroller bonus figures released today.

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 percent higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage.

The 2014 bonus pool is so large it far exceeds the amounts needed to lift the wages of all 2.9 million restaurant servers and bartenders, all 1.5 million home health and personal care aides, or all 2.2 million fast food preparation and serving workers up to $15 per hour.

IPS also calculated how much more of a national economic boost would be gained if a similar sum were funneled into the pockets of minimum wage workers. If the $28.5 billion had gone to minimum wage workers who need to spend nearly every dollar they make, the U.S. GDP would be expected to grow by about $34 billion, more than triple the $11 billion boost expected from the Wall Street bonuses.

“It’s too early to tell whether last year’s bonuses were based on high-risk gambles that could blow up our economy again,” said report author Sarah Anderson. “But the flourishing of the Wall Street bonus culture while worker wages are stagnating is clearly a sign of perverse priorities in Washington.”

Anderson, who directs the Institute’s Global Economy Project, noted that regulators have failed to implement even the modest Wall Street pay reforms in the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation. Anderson is a veteran executive compensation analyst, having co-authored 21 annual IPS Executive Excess reports.

For more information, contact:

Sarah Anderson, report author and Global Economy Project Director, Institute for Policy Studies, [email protected], tel: 202 787 5227

Elaine de Leon, Communications Director, Institute for Policy Studies, [email protected], tel: 202 787 5271

​​Not everyone can pay for the news. But if you can, we need your support.

Truthout is widely read among people with lower ­incomes and among young people who are mired in debt. Our site is read at public libraries, among people without internet access of their own. People print out our articles and send them to family members in prison — we receive letters from behind bars regularly thanking us for our coverage. Our stories are emailed and shared around communities, sparking grassroots mobilization.

We’re committed to keeping all Truthout articles free and available to the public. But in order to do that, we need those who can afford to contribute to our work to do so — especially now, because we have just 3 days left to raise $35,000 in critical funds.

We’ll never require you to give, but we can ask you from the bottom of our hearts: Will you donate what you can, so we can continue providing journalism in the service of justice and truth?