Wall Street bonuses in 2018 totaled more than 3x the earnings of minimum wage full-time workers

Since 1985 the average Wall Street bonus has increased by 1,000 percent.


Wall Street earnings have long been a target of criticism from progressives but their hefty earnings may be even more tremendous than we thought.

According to a new analysis from Inequality.org, the Wall Street bonus pool in 2018 total $27.5 billion. That is more than three times the combined annual earnings of all U.S. full-time minimum wage workers.

Comparatively that is the bonus pool for 181,300 employees versus the 640,000 U.S. workers employed full time at the federal minimum wage. And this was in a year in which “bonuses were down.”

According to Inequality.org: “Since 1985 the average Wall Street bonus has increased by 1,000 percent, from $13,970 to $153,700. If the minimum wage had increased at that rate, it would be worth $33.51 today, instead of $7.25.”

Remember, these bonuses come on top of salary and other compensation. The CEOs of the top 5 U.S. investment banks along brought in an average of $24.7 million in total compensation in 2018.

On an individual basis, the average 2018 bonus for a Wall Street employee was $153,700. An individual worker making federal minimum wage brings in $15,080 a year total, based on a 40-hour work week.

In addition to the massive wealth inequality this highlights, Inequality.org also points out that Wall Street employees are overwhelmingly male and white, while minimum wage workers are predominantly women and people of color. More than two-thirds of securities industry employees on Wall Street are male, while men make up just 37 percent of the 1.8 million Americans working full or part-time at the federal minimum wage.


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Alexandra Jacobo is a dedicated progressive writer, activist, and mother with a deep-rooted passion for social justice and political engagement. Her journey into political activism began in 2011 at Zuccotti Park, where she supported the Occupy movement by distributing blankets to occupiers, marking the start of her earnest commitment to progressive causes. Driven by a desire to educate and inspire, Alexandra focuses her writing on a range of progressive issues, aiming to foster positive change both domestically and internationally. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to community empowerment and a belief in the power of informed public action. As a mother, Alexandra brings a unique and personal perspective to her activism, understanding the importance of shaping a better world for future generations. Her writing not only highlights the challenges we face but also champions the potential for collective action to create a more equitable and sustainable world.