Amazon will raise company's minimum wage to $15 for all U.S. employees

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos at Amazon Spheres Grand Opening in Seattle in January 2018

Workers at Amazon's new Orlando warehouse are among those set for a big pay raise because the Seattle-based online retail giant announced Tuesday that it would raise pay for all employees to at least $15 an hour.

While Amazon portrays the pay raise as a response to those critics, with U.S. unemployment now flirting with historic lows, employers across the country complain they are having difficulty finding enough qualified workers to fill open positions.

Amazon will raise the minimum wage for all employees starting November. Amazon said the change would benefit more than 17,000 Amazon employees and more than 20,000 seasonal workers who will be hired over Christmas.

California announced in October 2017 it would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2023.

Target's CEO Brian Cornell recently said that the number of job applicants rose by 60 percent in the days after Target increased its minimum wage by $2 to $11 per hour previous year.

Amazon's founder and CEO is encouraging other companies to follow their lead.

An Amazon fullfillment center in Shepherdsville Kentucky
An Amazon fullfillment center in Shepherdsville Kentucky

Amazon, which became the second company after Apple to cross $1 trillion in market value last month, now pays around $11 per hour.

Amazon has been criticised for years over the state of working conditions in its 140 fulfillment centres around the world, including extensive and invasive security checks and being prevented from using the toilet. The federal minimum wage hasn't risen since 2009. "The current rate of $7.25 was set almost a decade ago", said Jay Carney, Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs.

After weeks of hammering Amazon for its treatment of its warehouse workers, U.S. Sen. "Having major, profitable employers like Amazon join the fight could help finally unstick it", she said.

At first glance, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' statement accompanying the announcement suggests it's the former. Workers outside of London will receive £9.50 an hour, up from £8 an hour. But as Amazon's stock has risen, so has Bezos' net worth - it's now estimated around $165 billion.

"Today I want to give credit where credit is due and I want to congratulate Mr. Bezos on doing exactly the right thing", Sanders said in a press release Tuesday.

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