Amazon lifts minimum wage to US$15

Kathleen Frey loaded a cart with customer orders at an Amazon distribution warehouse in Fall River in 2017

Fifty-two percent of voters surveyed by Pew Research in 2017 said they were in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead", CEO Jeff Bezos said.

Bezos also thanked Sanders for his words of support, noting that Amazon is "excited about this, and also [hopes] others will join in".

The ESRI study reveals that in a nine month period in 2016-2017, nearly a third of 1,514 workers surveyed progressed from the minimum wage to higher paid employment. "This will impact more than 37,000 employees across the country, resulting in higher pay for them and their families". 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.

The company - which offers online shoppers a combination of ease, speedy delivery and choice that few can match - has faced criticism of its labor practices, including grueling working conditions and lack of job security. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. The senator, who frequently uses Twitter to point out the disparity between Amazon's hourly wages and Bezos' vast fortune, congratulated Bezos for "doing exactly the right thing" and urged other companies to follow Amazon's example.

"It could well be, and I think it will be, a shot heard round the world", Sanders said in remarks at the US Capitol. Amazon, with about 100 warehouses around the country, will soon need to hire more than 100,000 workers to pack and ship boxes during the holiday season.

Sanders said Amazon's efforts were likely to have "a ripple effect all over the economy" by putting pressure on competitors to follow suit.

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Amazon also said it was ending some restricted stock unit grants as it raised wages for hourly warehouse and customer service employees. Walmart is now the largest private employer in the nation, with a workforce topping 1.5 million employees.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said the company - valued at almost $1 trillion - was heeding complaints about its pay structure.

Office of Labor Standards will update the required Labor Standards poster to reflect the minimum wage increases on or before December 1, 2018.

In some of those states, lawmakers have also adopted laws that prohibit cities or counties from passing their own minimum wage increases. Many business groups and conservatives argue that $15 an hour is too high, especially in places outside urban centers that have a lower cost of living.

Nonetheless, Amazon has continued to import foreign workers to take high-paying, white-collar jobs at the tech conglomerate.

In addition to seasonal workers, the new minimum wage also will apply to all temporary and part-time employees, including those hired by agencies, and to workers at the high-end grocery store chain Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired a year ago, the company said. Despite its dominance, it shares a major problem with employers big and small: a tight labor market. Target, which announced plans last year to raise hourly wages in steps to $15 by 2020 and now pays $12 an hour, said the number of job applicants rose 60 percent in the days after it increased its minimum by $2 to $11 per hour last year. And in January Walmart raised its starting wages to $11 per hour.

"Given that $15 per hour represents a fairly significant boost above what we were initially expecting, $12.50 an hour, we should see more money filtering through the economy for household spending and additional economic growth", Tennert said.

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