Big banks have faced heated public criticism for paying chief executives multimillion-dollar salaries and flush bonuses since the financial crisis. But little attention has been paid to wages for workers at the other end of the industry’s spectrum — even as many tellers reportedly struggle to make ends meet.
The issue of bank teller pay is starting to attract public scrutiny. Areport released late last year by the Committee for Better Banks, a coalition of community labor groups, made waves with the finding that almost a third of tellers and their families nationwide are on public assistance. With median pay for bank tellers hovering around $25,000 annually in 2012 and cost-conscious banks slashing tellers’ hours or replacing them with ATMs, economists and labor advocates say it’s hardly surprising these workers are having trouble paying the bills.
“Many, if not most, workers are facing this problem of low wages,” says Brigid Flaherty, who works on the Committee for Better Banks as the organizing director of the labor group Alliance for a Greater New York. “We’re hearing from a lot of bank tellers who are saying to themselves, ‘This is not that far off from working at a McDonald’s or a Walmart.'”