BUSINESS

Major Wall Street Bank Is Giving Its Low-Wage Workers A Raise

"Wages for many Americans have gone nowhere for too long," JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says.
Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of J.P. Morgan Chase, says the bank's pay increase for its lowest paid em
Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of J.P. Morgan Chase, says the bank's pay increase for its lowest paid employees is the right thing to do in an era when pay has not risen for most people.

JPMorgan Chase will give its lowest paid employees a raise over the next two years, its chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times on Tuesday.

The bank currently has a minimum wage of $10.15 an hour plus benefits. Over the next two years, it will raise base pay to between $12 and $16.50 an hour “depending on geographic and market factors,” Dimon writes. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, a rate that has not risen since 2009. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal rate.

JPMorgan Chase’s move is the right thing for the company to do in an era when pay has not risen for most people, Dimon said.

“Wages for many Americans have gone nowhere for too long,” he wrote.

Dimon’s pay package was $27 million for 2015, a 35 percent rise from 2014.His column draws attention to the lower-paid Americans who work in the financial sector. A third of the 1.7 million workers in retail banking make less than $15 an hour, according to a 2015 study flagged in the Financial Times. And a third of bank tellers make so little that they receive some form of public aid, a 2013 study found

The move puts Dimon and JPMorgan Chase in basic agreement with the “Fight For $15” movement, which has advocated for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle have passed laws that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over time. J.P. Morgan said in a release that its minimum wage in New York City and San Francisco will be $16.50 an hour in 2019. Workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C., will make $15 in 2019.

Of the 18,000 workers at the company who will receive a pay boost, Dimon said many were customer service representative and bank tellers. J.P. Morgan Chase announced last May that it would cut 5,000 employees in the next year. Dimon said at the time that the average JPMorgan Chase branch would lose two bank tellers, The Wall Street Journal reported. The job losses come as the bank increases automation and electronic banking. “It’s cheaper for us and good for clients,” he said, according to the WSJ. 

This story has been updated with city-specific salary information from a JPMorgan press release.

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