Coverage: Amazon raises its minimum wage to $15/hour
Amazon.com Inc.said on Tuesday it would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour for U.S. employees from next month, giving in to critics of poor pay and working conditions at the world’s second most valuable company.
Arjun Panchadar of Reuters had the news:
The increase pushes Amazon’s lowest wage above that at Walmart Inc and Target Corp. It is almost $3 shy of the average for a non-management worker in warehousing in the United States.
The online retailer also said it would now lobby in Washington D.C. for an increase in the federal minimum wage and urged its competitors to follow its lead as the union-led “Fight for Fifteen” movement pushes for higher remuneration.
Amazon’s move comes when U.S. unemployment is at a near two-decade low as retailers and shippers compete for hundreds of thousands of workers for the all-important holiday shopping season.
Several companies, including United Parcel Service and Macy’s, have announced hiring to staff stores and handle holiday sales and delivery.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
Mike Snider and Elizabeth Weise of USA Today reported that the company will lobby for an increase in the federal minimum wage:
Amazon also said it would begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25.
“The current rate … was set nearly a decade ago,” Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs, said in a statement. “We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country.”
Sanders, who introduced a bill called the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act (aka the Stop BEZOS Act), complimented Amazon on the move. “What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world,” Sanders said in a statement. “I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos lead, and I congratulate him for what he has done.”
Conor Sen of Bloomberg Opinion wrote that the move will lead to more workers considering new jobs:
If $15 an hour becomes the new standard for entry-level wages in corporate America, its impact may be felt most broadly among middle-class workers. Average hourly earnings for non-managerial workers in the U.S. were $22.73 an hour in August. The historically low level of jobless claims and unemployment, combined with $15 an hour becoming an anchor in people’s minds, could make someone people earning around that $22 mark feel more secure in their jobs. Instead of worrying about losing their job and being on the unemployment rolls for a while, or only being able to find last-ditch work that pays $9 or $10 an hour, the “floor” may be seen as a $15 an hour job.
That creates a whole new set of options for middle-class households. In 2017, the real median household income in the U.S. was $61,372, which is roughly what two earners with full-time jobs making $15 an hour would make. A $15-an-hour floor might embolden some workers to quit their jobs to move to another city even without a job offer there. It might let some workers switch to part-time to focus more time on education, gaining new skills or child care.
The U.S. has made a lot of progress during this long economic recovery in finding some level of employment for everyone who wants a job, but where there’s still work to do is getting workers to a living wage and creating options for those who are just barely making ends meet.