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JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon says the U.S. “should strive to make every job generate a living wage.”
“Decades ago, an unskilled worker, who may not have graduated from high school but was willing to work hard, could get a job at a manufacturing plant that would soon lead to a living wage and the ability to earn a middle-class income. That may no longer be the case. Today, it may be that unskilled or low-skilled workers would not naturally earn a living wage,” Dimon wrote in his widely-read annual letter to JPMorgan shareholders.
The 65-year-old banker emphasized that “all jobs are good jobs,” leading to better social outcomes such as less crime and more household formation.
In the letter, Dimon pointed out that nearly 30% of American workers earn less than $15 per hour, which “is barely a living wage even if two adults are working in a family of four.”
“While a living wage differs by state, the national average is currently $68,000 a year for a family of four. With two adults working full time, each would need to earn $16.50 an hour to reach that level,” Dimon added.
First, he called for an increase in the federal minimum wage and the ability for states to make adjustments based on the cost of living and unemployment rates.
“Simply stated, our policy goals should focus on maximizing incentives to get more people working while minimizing incentives for employers to lay off workers, especially low-paid employees,” he wrote.
Second, Dimon pointed to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit that goes to millions of low- to moderate-income workers, particularly parents, to supplement their earnings, and the Child Tax Credit as ways to help ensure every job “essentially pays a living wage.”
“The higher wages resulting from these credits would go a long way toward improving our labor force participation, which is a key driver of productivity and economic growth,” he wrote.
Elsewhere in the letter, Dimon said JPMorgan had increased wages for thousands of its employees, including its branch and customer service employees to between $16 and $20 an hour, depending on location, as well as providing annual benefits.
Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.