Amazon raising minimum wage for USA workers to $15 per hour

Muriel Colon
October 2, 2018

"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead", said Amazon's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, as the company announced the new pay scale Tuesday.

Higher wages could further pressure margins at retailers that are already getting squeezed by higher transportation and raw materials costs, but the $15 still compares unfavorably with average US blue collar wages.

Amazon is boosting its minimum wage for all US workers to $15 per hour starting next month.

Amazon has come under harsh criticism over the years for what some say are poor working conditions in its warehouses, the hubs the company have set up around the country for rapid delivery of online purchases.

Amazon, which just became the second company to have a $1 trillion market cap, said it plans to push the federal government to increase the minimum wage.

And Walmart, the country's largest private-sector employer, which has more than 1 million United States workers, raised its minimum wage to $11 in February. Amazon employs over 575,000 people worldwide.

Amazon's market capitalization now stands near $1 trillion; it paid Bezos, its founder and CEO, $1.68 million past year.

The federally mandated minimum pay hasn't risen since 2009. Walmart, which has 1 million workers, raised its minimum wage to $11 earlier this year. And in that time, the rate "has lost about 9.6 percent of its purchasing power to inflation", the Pew Research Center said previous year.

In response to Sanders and other critics, Amazon had previously said employees in its warehouses were paid an average of $15 if stock-based compensation and bonuses were included, without breaking out their underlying hourly wage.

From state to state, the minimum wage varies widely.

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.

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