A day before he was to appear at a congressional hearing focused on the biggest banks in the United States, Bank of America’s chief executive, Brian Moynihan, said on Tuesday that the bank planned to raise its minimum wage to $20 an hour from $15 over the next two years.
Appearing on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” Mr. Moynihan said that starting next month, Bank of America’s lowest-paid employees would earn $17 an hour. The hourly rate would increase incrementally over the next two years until it reached $20, the highest minimum wage paid by any of the country’s largest banks.
JPMorgan said last year it was using some of the savings it realized as a result of the Trump administration’s corporate tax cuts to raise its minimum wage to $15 and $18 an hour.
Mr. Moynihan’s announcement came as he prepared to appear before the House Financial Services Committee, where he and leaders of Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and State Street Corporation are expected to be questioned on issues like executive pay, diversity, fair lending and financial services industry’s ties to gun makers.
After years of Republican control of the committee, when members focused on the effects of Dodd-Frank financial regulations, the Democratic takeover of the House is placing the country’s biggest banks under new scrutiny. Instead of lamenting the constraints of stricter regulations, they are being forced to respond to lawmakers’ inquiries about whether they are too big and crowding out smaller lenders.
The change is reflected in the topics that banks and trade groups choose to address at industry events. Discussions of income inequality are popping up everywhere from the Bank Policy Institute’s annual New York conference to the World Economic Forum’s retreat at Davos.
“Meet the new hyper-attuned bank C.E.O.s.,” said Mike Mayo, an analyst for Wells Fargo who covers Bank of America and other big banks. “If the top levels of the financial industry were tone deaf around the financial crisis, this is the opposite.”
Mr. Mayo said that the wage increase announced by Bank of America also reflected a trend among large banks toward employing fewer low-wage employees like bank tellers in favor of more highly skilled workers like financial advisers and technologists who help operate digital banking services.