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Medium-sized raises at a big bank

Lewis Wallace Jul 12, 2016
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JPMorgan Chase is giving 18,000 employees a bump in pay.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon published an op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times announcing that 18,000 JPMorgan Chase employees will see pay raises in the next three years.

The bank’s minimum wage will go from $10.15 up to a range of $12 to $16.50 an hour.

“When you think of low-paid workers in America, you imagine a McDonald’s or Wal-Mart worker, but 30 percent of retail banking employees in America earn less than $15 an hour,” said Paul Sonn with the National Employment Law Project, which has been pushing for raises for bank workers.

Typically, the lowest-wage workers at a bank are bank tellers and customer service people. Bank tellers’ median pay is under $13 an hour, and tellers are also disproportionately women — five out of six.

Dimon wrote in his op-ed that not enough American workers are seeing the rewards of growth, and wages aren’t increasing. As Adriana Kugler at Georgetown University points out, that’s even though productivity is increasing.

“While there are increases in salaries, workers are also putting in more effort,” she said.

JPMorgan Chase has slashed costs in recent years. There have been thousands of layoffs, and bank tellers themselves are being replaced with automation and digital banking.

Another bit of context is that Jamie Dimon himself got a 35 percent pay raise in 2015, bringing his pay to $27 million — in part as a reward for trimming the bank’s expenses.

Meanwhile, as a political debate over raising minimum wages stagnates, some cities and other companies have taken action on their own. Amalgamated Bank raised wages to $15 in 2015, and is now campaigning for other banks to do so. And on Monday, Starbucks announced it will raise base wages around the country in October—but that comes as employees there have been petitioning the company for more hours.

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