Did the New York Times Really Need to Let Jamie Dimon Crow About the Measly Raise He Is Granting Employees?

Tuesday, Jamie Dimon—the billionaire president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase who in 2012 misled investors and regulators after losing $6.2 billion through derivatives betting—was provided prime real estate in the New York Times to tout his monstrous bank’s recent decision to raise his employee’s minimum wage by all of $1.85, spread out over a three-year period.

“A pay increase is the right thing to do,” Dimon writes before launching into a finger-wagging monologue about how “every business can do its part through whatever ways work best for it and its community.”

Dimon, who New York Magazine reports earned $27 million last year, may have received a round of applause from the Internet for his oh-so-generous decision to raise the minimum wage for his company’s lowest-paid employees by half a cup of coffee. But the increase is really just a PR talking point for the largest bank in America, bolstered by a leading and self-congratulatory op-ed in the Times—as if the largest bank in American needs the column inches to promote its brand. 

Wages have been on the rise this year; a February article in the Times reveals that falling unemployment and a hiring boom in recent years has finally resulted in wage increases, “a sign the job market could be tightening enough to force companies to pay more to attract and retain employees.

Which of course is what’s happening to JPMorgan. But please, New York Times, give this billionaire one-percenter ample opportunity to float his altruistic “rich people can save the world” mantra, which he does splendidly and without a hint of irony:

"America has been dealt an extraordinary hand, and I am optimistic about our future. Our universities are second to none. We have many of the best businesses on the planet — small, medium and large. Americans are among the most entrepreneurial and innovative people in the world, from those who work in entry-level jobs on the factory floor to Bill Gates. We have a reliable system of law, extremely low corruption and a hugely resilient and self-correcting democracy."

Yes, America is awesome. But it’s pretty head-in-the-sand of Dimon to insist businesses are the ones pushing for a higher minimum wage as opposed to, oh, I don’t know—the workers themselves. The National Retail Federation and the National Federation of Independent Business were among the associations lobbying Congress to reject the proposal for a $10.10 minimum wage back in 2014. And any notion that pay increases today are the result of a corporate CEO’s Kumbaya moment—as opposed to the practical thing for a business to do if they want to retain employees—obfuscates the work of millions of low-wage workers who’ve fought for an increased minimum wage in recent years.

JP Morgan made $5.5 billion in the first three months of this year. The bank can afford a lot more than the $1.85 minimum wage increase Dimon is so proud of offering. But does he really need the opportunity to pat himself on the back about creating “more widely shared prosperity” in the form of making a necessary adjustment to his business model? Unlikely.


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