Moral Low Ground


1 in 3 US Bank Tellers (Median Wage= $11.59/Hour) Are on Public Assistance

Nearly a third of America’s 500,000 bank tellers are paid such low wages that they are forced to rely upon some sort of government assistance, costing taxpayers close to a billion dollars a year.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of bank tellers was $24,100 in 2010. That works out to a paltry $11.59 an hour. The lowest-earning 10 percent of tellers earned less than $18,730, or just $9 an hour.

The Washington Post reports around a third of the nation’s bank tellers rely on some form of public assistance to survive. In New York state, that figure is 39 percent. US taxpayers contribute $900 million annually to supplement these tellers’ meager wagers. Corporations essentially use taxpayer subsidies as a form of corporate welfare, transferring labor costs from the private to the public sector.

“The wealthiest and most powerful industry in the world, and it’s substantially subsidized by our tax dollars that we could be spending on child care or pre-[kindergarten],” Deborah Axt, co-director at Make the Road New York, told the Post.

US bank profits exceeded $141.3 billion in 2012, their highest level since before the financial meltdown, with median bank CEO base pay at around $552,000. Meanwhile, tellers earned a median annual income of $24,100.

“It’s not a livable wage,” New York City Bank of America teller Alex Shalom, who earns $13.50 an hour, told the Post. “Bank of America is making all of this money… but we’re not getting paid for holidays.”

Bank of America’s profits last year were $4.188 billion. CEO Brian Moynihan earned $12.1 million in 2012.

(Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons)

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One Comment

  1. PrimeDecember 22, 2013 at 6:53 pmReply

    “Nearly a third of America’s 500,000 bank tellers are paid such low wages that they are forced to rely upon some sort of government assistance”

    Would they accept those wages if public assistance weren’t available? Something to think about. People don’t work when the payoff isn’t better than not working.
    So what if some of them are on public assistance, which costs the taxpayers? Isn’t everything the government does ostensibly something that is supposed to benefit the public? Roads, regulations, police, etc. It all costs the taxpayers. The banks pay taxes, too (though they may not all be net tax payers). And what one pays in taxes is completely divorced from any benefit one may receive in return.
    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not defending the banks here. I would like to see the big thieving banks brought down, by abolishing the government on which they depend. I’m just questioning the logic of the complaint. Public assistance is bad because it’s a burden on the taxpayers. Is that not true of all taxes? I have always been told by welfare supporters that it benefits everyone, not just those who directly receive the money.

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