Jamie Dimon increases wages for low-level JPMorgan Chase workers

In a financial industry where CEOs make almost 470 times what entry-level workers make, JPMorgan Chase is set to increase wages for low-level employees by about 20 percent by February.

Kevin Wolf/AP Images for JP Morgan Chase & Co./File
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at an event on economic inclusivity in Washington.

JPMorgan Chase is set to hand employees a pay raise as the company adjusts its minimum wage over the next three years.

On Tuesday, Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times citing JPMorgan Chase’s intentions to raise minimum wages for low-level employees by one-fifth in coming years. Mr. Dimon writes, “A pay increase is the right thing to do. Wages for many Americans have gone nowhere for too long.”

Starting wages at JPMorgan Chase are currently $10.15 an hour, almost three dollars higher than the federal minimum wage, but will be $12 by February 2016. The majority of lower-level employees could see wages of $13.00-16.50, depending on the cost of living in their area.

The wage increase at JPMorgan Chase comes after Starbucks’ announcement on Monday that it will raise base pay for employees by five percent in October. Other retailers, like Walmart, Target, and Costco, have also raised minimum wages at their stores in recent months. Walmart announced in January that employees would make a minimum hourly wage of $10 or receive a two percent boost in pay. Target raised its minimum hourly wage to $10 in May.

JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank, has over 235,000 employees in approximately 100 countries. The bank has $2.4 trillion in assets. Though operating profits for JPMorgan Chase dipped two percent in 2015, shares rose six percent.

Retailers haven’t been the only ones to raise minimum pay rates. New York has raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour statewide by 2021, and in New York City by 2018. Fifteen dollars will also be the minimum hourly wage in the California cities of Los Angeles, Emeryville, and Mountain View by 2021.

In March, the Economic Policy Institute reported 2.2 percent nominal wage growth in 2015. The report states that wage growth “remains below a level where workers would reap the benefits of economic growth.”

According to a National Employment Law Project report released last year, the retail banking industry is a “major contributor to the low-wage economy.” Despite top executives who make large sums of money, 30.4 percent of bank workers, or 1 in 3, make less than $15 an hour. There are currently 1.7 million people working in the retail banking,  and bank tellers’ average wages are $12.44 an hour.

On the other side of the spectrum, the top six executives of the biggest banks in America took home a collective $123 million in 2015, nearly a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Dimon himself earned $27 million in 2015, a 35 percent increase from 2014.

Courtney Hall, a bank teller at Santander and member of the Committee for Better Banks recognizes the immense disparity between bank CEOs and bank tellers as a cause for action. She says in an emailed statement:

“The average bank CEO takes home 470 times the average frontline bank worker’s salary, and this is an important step in the right direction to secure living wages for us and our families. But wage increases at one bank are not enough: all retail banks must work to cease the predatory banking practices and aggressive sales metrics systems that create the hostile work conditions which harm bank workers and consumers alike.”

There are small signs of growing social consciousness within the banking industry. On Monday, Britain’s financial industry committed to a set of incentives encouraging the hiring of more women to leadership roles in big banks. In his op-ed, Dimon appeals to businesses’ sense of social responsibility, writing, “We must find ways to help [people] move up the economic ladder, and everyone — business, government and nonprofits — needs to play a role.”

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