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 Inc said on Tuesday it would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour for its US employees from next month, as it faces criticism for pay disparity from lawmakers and labour unions. "We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us".
The corporation revealed its median pay this past spring, under a new law that requires companies to report the earnings gap between their CEOs and their regular workers.
Also, Amazon will start advocating for a higher federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 since 2009. Amazon employs over 575,000 people worldwide.
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Amazon is raising its minimum wage for all employees to $15, a bump that could have implications throughout the U.S. workforce.
Amazon's market capitalization now stands near $1 trillion; it paid Bezos, its founder and CEO, $1.68 million past year. Bezos is listed by Forbes as the world's richest man with a net worth of almost $150 billion. The new minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees - including part-time and temporary employees - as well as another 100,000 seasonal employees, the company said.
The Obama administration had called for raising the minimum wage to $10.10, but the proposal went nowhere during an era of divided government. It also comes as USA workers fight for $15 wages across the country.
From state to state, the minimum wage varies widely. The company has named 20 cities as finalists, including Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C. And five states have laws that don't require a minimum wage at all, according to the Department of Labor.
Sanders claims many Amazon workers need food stamps to feed their families, though Amazon has disputed his figures.