A stronger economy and more competitive business environment are good for our country, our communities and our firm. At JPMorgan Chase, we have always believed we should use our capital to do what banks do best: lend and invest. Even in difficult times, we have invested in our employees, customers and communities. Today, because of our firm’s strong performance and a better business and regulatory climate, we are able to increase and accelerate that. Multiply this growth and momentum across the entire private sector, and it is a formula for greater opportunity for all. Now, we must ensure we realize it.
There is no shortage of statistics that illustrate the reality that, too often, the benefits of economic growth have been unevenly shared: While U.S. unemployment may be at a 10-year low, many communities struggle with rates that are multiple times the national average. Seventy percent of kids ages 17 to 24 can’t get into the U.S. military because of poor health or education. Clearly, just because parts of the country are doing well does not mean every part is doing well.
The fact is that leaders — from all sectors — have not done a good enough job taking care of those who are being left behind. And these individuals and communities, rightly so, have let us know. Leaders have a collective responsibility to do more. We must see this as a call to action to harness today’s economic momentum in the service of expanded opportunity. Doing so requires thinking beyond our traditional roles, putting aside partisan differences and committing to the pragmatic, hard work of making meaningful change. More often than not, we already know what the solutions are — we simply need to get them done.
“Government has served and will continue to serve a critical function in expanding access to opportunity for its citizens, but the notion that this is the purview of government alone — or that the nonprofit sector can absorb the burden — is as outdated as it is unrealistic.”
As the primary engine of economic growth, the private sector has a special role to play in making sure the benefits are more widely shared. And we must embrace this role. We face not only a moral obligation, but also a business imperative, to make the economy work better for more people. In our firm’s most recent Business Leaders Outlook survey, for example, executives cited a shortage of talent — driven in large part by a lack of applicants with the skills businesses need — as one of their top challenges. That’s why JPMorgan Chase is investing over $350 million to arm workers with the skills they need to move up the economic ladder, while strengthening the talent pipeline employers need to compete. We know the future of business and the health of all our communities are inextricably linked.
That means private enterprise must view societal challenges as business challenges and leverage what makes us successful to solve them. For our part at JPMorgan Chase, we are putting our capital and expertise to work by investing $20 billion over the next five years to support our employees and local communities. We are increasing our lending to the small businesses that are the distributed power grid of economic opportunity, expanding our branch network to serve more communities and employ more people, and accelerating lending for affordable housing. We’re also increasing wages and benefits for our employees and boosting our philanthropic investments by 40 percent. That means we will target $1.75 billion in philanthropic capital toward driving inclusive growth in communities around the world by 2023.
The private sector does not have all the answers — and true progress will be possible only through collaboration — but business must lead by example and step in where we have resources and expertise to offer. If we come together, I am profoundly optimistic that we can solve our biggest challenges and help dramatically more people get on a path to a better life. Let’s get to work.
Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.