* Cuts mainly through attrition in retail banking
* Bank is building branches, but reducing staff per branch
* Cuts represent about 1.5 pct of JPMorgan's overall staffing
By David Henry
NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co plans to cut 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in its consumer bank in 2013, representing about 1.5 percent of the company's overall workforce, as the bank tries to improve the profitability of its branches.
The cuts will come mainly through attrition, spokeswoman Kristin Lemkau said. The bank's branches have 63,500 employees, representing about a quarter of JPMorgan Chase's total employees.
JPMorgan is one of the few big U.S. banks that is still adding branches to its network, but to boost profit it plans to scale back the tellers it has on hand for routine transactions and to add some salespeople for products and services like wealth management that can boost revenue.
The net effect will be to reduce staff per branch by 20 percent through 2015, the company's head of consumer banking, Ryan McInerney, said in a presentation to investors.
In JPMorgan Chase's mortgage business, the company reiterated its previously announced plans to shed 13,000 to 15,000 jobs by 2014.
JPMorgan Chase had 5,614 branches at the end of 2012, and plans to increase its network by about 100 branches a year, it said. Chase's U.S. branch network is second to Wells Fargo & Co's in size.
The bank is hoping to focus on selling more to wealthy depositors. Its average consumer checking account has a balance of $4,276, and about half of all affluent U.S. households are within two miles a Chase branch or automated teller machine, the bank said.
JPMorgan Chase overall earned $21.9 billion last year, excluding accounting charges linked to changes in the value of its debt. The bank said it has the potential to earn about $27.5 billion, thanks in part to efficiency gains. It aims to cut overall expenses by $1 billion in 2013.
For overall staffing levels, JPMorgan Chase had 258,965 employees globally at the end of 2012. Its headcount rose following the financial crisis, to 262,882 in the second quarter of 2012 from 219,569 in the first quarter of 2009. Since last year's second quarter, staffing levels have drifted lower.
JPMorgan Chase shares were down 1.3 percent at $47.08 on Tuesday morning on the New York Stock Exchange.