To the editor:
According to the website of the Delaware County commissioners, JPMorgan Chase is by far the largest employer in Delaware County with 20,475 FTE associates. It is also a Fortune 500 company, currently ranking 23, and remains the largest bank in the U.S. So whatever JPMorgan Chase does is sure to attract national attention.
In a July 12 op-ed piece in the New York Times, Chairman and Chief Executive of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon has announced that his company will raise the minimum salary for its American employees from currently $10.25 an hour to $12 to $16.50 an hour, depending on geographic and market factors. Some 18,000 bank tellers and customer-service representatives will be affected by this change.
Dimon writes, “A pay increase is the right thing to do” because wage stagnation has plagued the country for too long. He also says that raising the minimum wage is good for company because it helps JPMorgan Chase recruit and retain more talented people, thus improving the company’s long-term prospects. In addition, lower-compensated employees will receive a new medical plan (subsidized up to 90 percent by the company), dental and vision coverage, paid family leave, paid vacation, a pension plan, and more. The annualized value of all these benefits is on average $11,000 a year above an employee’s existing wage.
But Dimon is not yet done. To help untrained and unemployed young people, JPMorgan Chase will also invest $200 million for the training of entry-level employees as well as $325 million in career-focused education in general. The CEO has more to say in his piece, but the highlights presented here make it clear that JPMorgan has a strong sense of social responsibility toward its employees and society as a whole. (He) does not mention diversity in his article, but these days it is indeed rare to find companies that are not focused on diversity and sustainability, so we can assume that the company’s renewed efforts on outreach and training includes minorities as well.
Not every business can afford to raise the minimum wage and be as generous as JPMorgan Chase. But those that can should consider following in the footsteps of the bank. The steps taken by JPMorgan Chase will not end income inequality, but it is step in the right direction to help workers and their families, strengthen communities, and make society fairer.
One last thought – a bold step of this nature also ensures that capitalism will survive in the long run and not be upended some day by disenfranchised and impoverished people left behind. JPMorgan Chase’s social-market-economy model is capitalism at its best. Let’s hope the folks gathering in Cleveland for the GOP convention are paying attention.