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JPMorgan's Dimon: Coronavirus a ‘wake up call’ to address economic, health inequality

·Former Correspondent
·3 min read
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JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said on Tuesday the COVID-19 crisis should serve as a “wake-up call” for business and government to build a more inclusive economy.

Over the last two months, the coronavirus outbreak has ravaged the U.S. economy and thrown over 36 million people out of work — most of them lower income workers. According to data from Federal Reserve released last week, nearly 40% of the working class have lost their jobs, with the unemployment rate hitting a record at 14.7%

In a memo ahead of JPMorgan’s shareholders meeting, Dimon called the current situation a “call to action” that should prompt business and government to “lay the foundation for the kind of recovery we need [and] it is critical we do so.”

Dimon added that the crisis has “laid bare the reality that, even before the pandemic hit, far too many people were living on the edge. Unfortunately, low-income communities and people of color are being hit the hardest, exacerbating the health and economic inequities that were already unacceptably pronounced before the virus took over.”

Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co, speaks during the Bloomberg Global Business Forum  in New York on September 25, 2019. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP)        (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co, speaks during the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York on September 25, 2019. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

The outspoken CEO said it’s his “fervent hope” that the U.S. uses the COVID-19 crisis “as a catalyst to rebuild an economy that creates and sustains opportunity for dramatically more people, especially those who have been left behind for too long.”

Fears are growing that the many of those lost jobs may never return, which will likely extend the timetable for a recovery.

In his letter, Dimon articulated a vision of an inclusive economy that provides “widespread access to opportunity,” which ultimately yields a “stronger, more resilient economy.” He also stressed the need for business and government to “act and invest for the common good and confront the structural obstacles that have inhibited inclusive economic growth for years.”

He added: “From the re-opening of small businesses to the rehiring of workers, let’s leverage this moment to think creatively about how we can mobilize to address so many issues that inhibit the creation of an inclusive economy and fray our social fabric. By doing the right thing during times of crisis, we can emerge stronger and more cohesive in its wake.”

In addition, Dimon touted some of the work the bank is doing in underserved communities and for frontline healthcare workers. He also pointed to some of the expanded benefits for JPMorgan Chase’s massive workforce, and how they’re working with customers and clients.

He added since the debut of the Paycheck Protection Program, the bank has provided more than $30 billion to over 250,000 businesses, reaching more than 3 million employees. According to Dimon, the average loan size was $122,000 and half of the loans went to companies with fewer than 5 employees.

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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