Starting May 1, 2019, North Carolina-based Bank of America is raising its hourly minimum wage for branch tellers and other such entry level position holders to $17. This will further increase incrementally over the next two years and is targeted to reach $20 an hour by 2021. The bank has also zeroed-in on health-care cost increases for lower-paid employees.
This step came only a day before, when the bank’s CEO along with the CEOs of other five banks including J.P Morgan Chase (JPM) were scheduled to testify before the Democrat-led House Financial Services Committee in Washington. Low wages is an pressing issue for the 2020 election and this step could be timely and strategic to diffuse any criticism in the near future.
The issue is indeed alarming, owing to the gap between high salaried employees and the low waged ones like bank tellers. In fact, about one-third of bank tellers rely on some form of public assistance like Medicaid to food stamps. In 2017, Bank of America raised its minimum wage from $13.50 to $15 an hour.
The step is an optimistic sign that wages are finally rising. Nearly after a decade of the Great Recession, companies like Amazon and Walmart had already raised the minimum wages for their employees ahead of the federal rules. A bill to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour is already doing rounds in the Congress.