On the eve of his testimony before Congress last week, the president of Bank of America made two announcements(1). First the Bank will offer a starting salary to entry-level workers of $17.00/hour; second, existing employees will make $20 an hour in two years. A year ago, J.P. Morgan Chase raised its hourly minimum wage from between $15 and $18 dollars an hour. Arguably, an even more important move maybe seen in Google’s announcement that it will pay its contract employees (employees hired by a third party or “co-employer”, but working for Google) will pay a minimum wage of $15.00 an hour regardless of the local minimum wage rate, and by 2020 will offer comprehensive health care including medical, pharmacy, and dental, provide 12 weeks of family leave and eight sick days, and provide an annual tuition reimbursement of $5000 (2). At Amazon's annual share holder meeting, Jeff Bezos egged on the company's retail peers to best Amazon's current $15.00 wage offer.
Companies announcing increases in the starting salaries for their single employees is laudatory; still, across the nation for families with children, these pay increases are insufficient to cover basic living expenses. Corporate America has a serious distance to travel before many Americans are able to get by without hardship.