Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of blue-chip investment bank JP Morgan, has voiced his concerns that the US has been split into two, with one group benefitting from thriving corporations and the other struggling to make ends meet.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on March 19, 2019

“I don’t want to be a tone deaf CEO; while the company is doing fine, it is absolutely obvious that a big chunk of (the population) have been left behind,” Dimon said.

“Forty percent of Americans make less than $15 an hour. Forty percent of Americans can’t afford a $400 bill, whether it’s medical or fixing their car. Fifteen percent of Americans make minimum wages, 70,000 die from opioids annually.

“If you travel around to most neighborhoods where companies live, they’re doing fine,” Dimon said. “So we’ve kind of bifurcated the economy.”

The JPMorgan Chase CEO launched an initiative to boost technical and digital training

Dimon made the comments while launching JPMorgan Chase’s new US$350 million commitment to bolster employment prospects for people from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.

He also said it was necessary for companies to be actively involved in providing training and education opportunities outside of the university system.

“Businesses can bypass all these parts of society that have been suffering a little bit because they do it themselves,” he said. “They have their own schools, their own training, their own everything.”

The initiative, known as New Skills at Work, will provide US$200 million to to develop skills which are in demand in the technical and digital sphere. Another US$125 million will be directed to improving collaboration and communication between employers and educators, including the community college sector. The remaining US$25 million will be used to develop and distribute more detailed labour market data.

The JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman also said the education system was “broken” and that the bank had long given up donating money to Ivy League colleges.

He said the stigma around community colleges was another problem and that many jobs did not require a four-year college degree. Three quarters of jobs advertised at JPMorgan Chase last year did not require completion of a college degree.

Dimon: US economy should have grown more quickly

Dimon also opined that the US economy had underachieved over the last decade. He noted it had grown 20% but said it should have grown at double this rate.

“A normal recovery would have been 40%. And we made a list of all the reasons why — infrastructure, bad taxation to litigation, to regulations stopping the formation of small business. But a big one is skills,” Dimon said.

Dimon has been outspoken on issues of social justice and wealth inequality. In 2016, he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times outlining why JPMorgan Chase was increasing wages and arguing that income inequality, lack of access to training and wage stagnation were holding the US back.

“It is true that too many people are not getting a fair opportunity to get ahead,” Dimon wrote. “We must find ways to help them move up the economic ladder, and everyone — business, government and nonprofits — needs to play a role.”

In last year’s Harvard Business Review survey of the best performed CEOs in the world, he placed 22nd.

He is also involved in a new healthcare venture with Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.