Amazon is raising its minimum wage for all employees to $15, a bump that could have implications throughout the USA workforce. The policy goes into effect Nov 1.
Amazon says it is offering raises to all hourly employees in its US warehouses and call centers, a move that follows criticism of the pay and working conditions for the retail giant's lowest-paid workers.
In a statement, CEO Jeff Bezos said that "we listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we wanted to lead". "We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us".
Even more importantly, Amazon says it will begin advocating for an increase in the Federal minimum wage.
The size and explosive growth of Amazon give the decision importance far beyond the hundreds of thousands of people who will benefit directly.
Amazon announced on Tuesday it is raising its minimum wage in the U.S. to $15.
The company, which bought Whole Foods Market in a $13.7 billion deal past year, opened a general store in New York City in September after launching a few small grocery shops known as Amazon Go in Seattle and Chicago. In the US, Senator Bernie Sanders has publicly accused the company of underpaying its workers, and last month introduced a bill aimed to force Amazon to increase the amount it pays workers. But as Amazon's stock has risen, so has Bezos' net worth - it's now estimated around $165 billion. New York state announced similar measures for New York City residents as part of its 2016-17 budget, with large companies - more than 11 people - mandated to raise their wages to $15 by the end of 2018. Last month it became the second publicly traded company to be worth $1 trillion, hot on the heels of Apple. By way of comparison, Walmart's minimum wage is $11 an hour and Target is aiming to achieve $15 an hour by 2020. Some employees who already make $15 per hour will also see a pay increase.
Amazon said the $15 minimum wage will apply to more than 250,000 employees and 100,000 seasonal holiday employees. "The current rate of $7.25 was set almost a decade ago", said Jay Carney, senior vice president of global corporate affairs for the company.
Amazon, which became the second company after Apple to cross $1 trillion in market value last month, paid its US employees on average $34,123 previous year.
Amazon has announced it is raising its minimum wage in the United States to $15, following sustained pressure from Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders.