Retail: Amazon’s $15 minimum wage
Amazon responded to a drumbeat of complaints this week by raising the pay of its U.S. workers to at least $15 an hour, said Laura Stevens in The Wall Street Journal. The increase, which will mean raises for more than 250,000 Amazon employees, including many warehouse workers, kicks in Nov. 1. Amazon’s “sheer size and market dominance” have made it a target of politicians on both right and left, including Sen. Bernie Sanders. “We listened to our critics,” said CEO Jeff Bezos. The move will create goodwill, but it also reflects a strong economy with low unemployment, which is driving businesses to hike wages.
The Amazon raise will put pressure on the whole retail business, said Tonya Garcia in MarketWatch.com. Many retailers have raised salaries and offered bonuses in recent years as part of an effort to retain staff and lure new recruits, but few have reached the $15 an hour rate that “advocates deem a living wage.” Stocks of firms including Costco, Walmart, and Target went down over investor fears that higher labor costs could cut into profits. But boosting wages alone might not help Amazon hold on to employees: It has also been criticized for “grim working conditions” in its warehouses, where “the issues go beyond compensation.” ■