News US Economy News What if Minimum Wage Kept Up With Wall Street Bonuses? Off the Charts: The Visual Says It All By Diccon Hyatt Diccon Hyatt Diccon Hyatt has written hundreds of articles about how public policy and the economy intersect with personal finance, tracking all the latest dynamics affecting your money. Before joining The Balance, he covered business and community news for 17 years, including Princeton, New Jersey's high-tech Route 1 Corridor. learn about our editorial policies Published on March 30, 2021 Share Tweet Pin Email Cristian Negroni / 500px / Getty Images. Here’s a thought experiment—what if the rising economic tides really did lift all boats, and the fortunes of the lowest-paid workers rose in proportion to those of Wall Streeters? If that had happened every year since 1985, the federal minimum wage would now be $44.12 an hour, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank. The chart below shows the starkly different trajectories of the annual pay of people working for minimum wage versus the average Wall Street bonus. Minimum wage, $7.25 an hour since 2009, was $3.35 in 1985. It’s a different story for workers in New York’s securities industry, where bonuses have soared from an average of $13,970 in 1985 to $184,000 in 2020, the Institute said, citing data from the New York State Comptroller. For left-leaning politicians such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, statistics like this are an argument to raise the minimum wage. Efforts to raise it to $15 an hour failed after it was removed from the final version of the American Rescue Plan. Progressive Democrats in the Senate didn’t have the numbers to override conservative opponents, who often argue that raising the minimum wage would actually hurt those it intends to help because employers would respond by cutting jobs. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Inequality.org. "If The Minimum Wage Had Increased as Much as Wall Street Bonuses Since 1985, It Would Be Worth $44 Today."