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Justin Fox

Let the Pay Hikes Begin

Aetna's Mark Bertolini is giving his company's lowest-paid workers a raise. Is the Great Pay Cramdown finally coming to an end?
Henry Ford raised wages so his workers could buy his cars.

Henry Ford raised wages so his workers could buy his cars.

Source: AFP/Getty Images

First he asked executives at his company to read Thomas Piketty’s "Capital in the 21st Century." Then Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark T. Bertolini announced Monday that the company will raise the wages of its lowest-paid workers to at least $16 an hour and cut their health-care bills.

One way to look at this is as a reaction to the improving economy -- and a sign that serious upward wage pressure may finally start showing up in employment statistics this year. That’s part of it, Bertolini told The Wall Street Journal, as is the fact that Aetna’s business is becoming more dependent on selling coverage to individuals, meaning customer service has to improve. But there’s also that Piketty thing: