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Amazon raises minimum wage to $15 after criticism

03 October 2018

The labour market is also tightening as the USA heads into the holiday season, which could naturally inflate wages. Already, several states and cities have raised their minimum wages above the federal one. It will climb to $13 in July 2019. Small employers can meet this requirement by paying no less than $12.00 per hour in wages and contributing at least $3.00 per hour toward an employee's medical benefits and/or reported tips.

The Amazon employees seeing a bump in pay include full-time, part-time, workers employed by temp agencies, as well as seasonal positions.

This decision follows sustained pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders, who has attacked Amazon for how little it pays its workers, and introduced a bill in September entitled "Stop BEZOS," which would tax large companies whose low-wage employees rely on government assistance.

Current pay for warehouse workers at Amazon is at least $12.25 an hour in Omaha, Nebraska, $13 in Baltimore and $16.50 in NY, according to recent job postings.

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The new minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 employees in the USA, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday, the company said in a statement. Now, with the unemployment rate near a 50-year low and the number of job openings exceeding the number of unemployed, more lower-income Americans are finally receiving meaningful raises.

Average hourly pay jumped 0.4 percent in August and increased 2.9 percent compared with a year earlier. This wage has remained stagnant for almost a decade. At the time, Bezos said the story "doesn't describe the Amazon I know".

Despite its domination, Amazon shares one potential hurdle that is growing higher for nearly all employers big and small: a tightening labour market.

Amazon, which became the second company after Apple to cross $US1 trillion in market value last month, now pays around $US11 per hour. It was offering at least $12.50 for workers in the Chicago area, $12.25 an hour in Omaha, Neb., $13 in Baltimore and $16.50 in NY, according to recent job postings.

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The company has also been criticised for its employment practices, with complaints over working conditions in its warehouses. The bill, which had no chance of passing and was created to draw attention to Sanders' Amazon criticism, would tax large companies for every dollar their workers receive in safety net benefits like food stamps.

Target and Walmart, among other retailers, have boosted their minimum wage in recent years.

Amazon's pay hike "shows the Fight for $15's momentum is unstoppable", Lachelle Slaughter, a McDonald's worker in Detroit said in a statement.

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Amazon raises minimum wage to $15 after criticism