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$21 is the new $15 in minimum wages at more companies

USAA is increasing wages by a little over 30% for its lowest-paid employees, as the nation’s 29th-biggest bank joins Bank of America — the second-largest — in paying an hourly rate of at least $21.

The wage hike took effect on Sunday and translates into an annual salary of $43,680, in addition to retirement and other benefits, the San Antonio, Texas-based employer of 36,000 announced on Monday. Prior to this week, USAA had been paying an hourly minimum of $16, a buck more than the $15 minimum being called for in proposals to increase the federal minimum wage of $7.25

USAA’s move comes days after BofA said it would pay its workforce of 174,000 a minimum of $21 an hour, continuing a trajectory toward $25 an hour by 2025.

The new minimum being paid by both banks is well above the poverty line of $12,880 for one person and the $26,500 threshold for a family of four, according to 2021 guidelines by the Department of Health and Human Services. 


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USAA’s decision to fatten employee paychecks comes as the bank and insurer that focuses on serving members of the military looks to fill 2,600 positions by the end of the year. USAA, founded by a group of military officers in 1922, is hiring service reps, claims adjusters, data engineers and scientists, IT analysts, software engineers and underwriters for its headquarters in San Antonio, as well as its outposts in Colorado Springs, Dallas, Phoenix and Tampa.  

Banking is not immune to the labor shortages plaguing U.S. industries at large, with hospitals, restaurants and farms among those contending with a dearth of workers.  

“USAA, like many employers across the nation, recognizes how competitive the current job market is,” stated the bank, which is offering current employees bonuses of up to $2,000 to recruit new workers.

PNC Bank is bumping its minimum pay from $15 to $18 an hour, or by 20%, starting November 22, 2021, the Pittsburgh-based financial institution announced in August. 

JPMorgan Chase, the biggest U.S. bank, pays a minimum of $16.50 to $20 an hour, depending on an area’s cost of living. Wells Fargo pays its workers between $15 and $20 and Citigroup pays rank-and-file employees a minimum of $15 an hour.

Online retailer Amazon last month said it was boosting its average starting pay to $18 an hour for 125,000 new hires, with some locations offering sign-on bonuses of up to $3,0000. Still, Amazon continues to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour. 

Walmart increased its minimum wage by a buck to $12 an hour last month, paying less than Amazon and its smaller rival, Target, which like Amazon pays at least $15 an hour.

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