Bank of America, one of the biggest banks in the U.S., is raising its minimum wage by an additional $5/hour over the next two years.
CNBC reported Tuesday that Bank of America is raising the current minimum wage of $15/hour to $17/hour beginning on May 1 — which is coincidentally International Workers’ Day — and then eventually to $20/hour by 2021.
The new wages will be welcome news for the bank’s 205,000 employees, many of whom are tellers currently living on public assistance. A 2014 study by the University of California-Berkeley showed that of the approximately 478,000 bank tellers who work at least 10 hours per week for 27 weeks in a year, 31% are enrolled in some form of public assistance, like food stamps, Medicaid, or who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Of course, the minimum wage increase for bank tellers is far from the only raise Bank of America greenlighted. As CNBC noted, Bank of America chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan got a 15% raise in 2018, meaning the bank’s top executive took home more than $26 million in total compensation for last year alone. And as CBS reported in March, the federal minimum wage would be $33/hour today had it kept up with the growth of Wall Street bonuses.
The move to raise wages could also be because executives of the five biggest banks — including Moynihan and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — are due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. The committee oversees the banking sector, and includes outspoken critics of Wall Street’s business practices like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan). The testimony is also not too far removed from the resignation of former Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan, who oversaw numerous scandals involving the bank.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.