JPMorgan Chase CEO: 'Why we're giving our employees a raise'

by Tom Gallagher

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Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of the Wall Street behemoth JPMorgan Chase, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that the bank is raising its minimum wage to between $12 and $16.50 an hour for full-time, part-time and new employees, depending on geographic and market factors. Dimon writes:

WAGE stagnation. Income inequality. A lack of quality education. Insufficient training and skills development.

Issues like these have led approximately two-thirds of Americans to believe that the next generation will be worse off than the last. And it is true that too many people are not getting a fair opportunity to get ahead. We must find ways to help them move up the economic ladder, and everyone -- business, government and nonprofits -- needs to play a role.

At JPMorgan Chase, we're starting by giving thousands of employees a raise. …

A pay increase is the right thing to do. Wages for many Americans have gone nowhere for too long. Many employees who will receive this increase work as bank tellers and customer service representatives. Above all, it enables more people to begin to share in the rewards of economic growth.

And it's good for our company, helping us attract and retain talented people in a competitive environment. While businesses, including ours, are understandably cautious when it comes to expenses, there are good expenses (investments that will pay off in the long run) and bad expenses (waste and inefficiencies). We have never hesitated to invest aggressively if we thought it would improve our long-term prospects.

But the bank goes further in providing a package of benefits for its lower paid employees, which amount to $11,000 per year. JPMorgan Chase is also investing over $500 million in job training programs for its own employees as well as for those in 10 states that do not need a college education for certain job opportunities. Dimon concludes his essay by encouraging the government, business and nonprofit sectors working together to create shared prosperity:

We [the United States] face many challenges. But they can be overcome by government, business and the nonprofit sectors working together to build on models of success that advance economic opportunity and create more widely shared prosperity.

[Tom Gallagher is a regular contributor to NCR on domestic and foreign affairs.]

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