NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon, the business that upended the retailing industry and transformed the way we shop for just about everything, is jumping out ahead of the pack again, announcing a minimum wage of $15 an hour for its U.S. employees that could force other big companies to raise their pay.
The online giant also said it will push Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25.
Given Amazon’s size and clout, the move Tuesday is a major victory for the $15-an-hour movement, which has organized protests of fast-food, gas station and other low-paid workers. Already, several states and cities have raised their minimum wages above the federal one.
Amazon, whose value topped an awesome $1 trillion in September, has been under political and economic pressure to pay its employees more.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.
But Amazon may also be offering raises out of necessity: With the economy booming and unemployment near rock bottom, employers are having difficulty finding help. 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.
The wage increase takes effect next month.
AP reporters Anne D’Innocenzio in New York; Michelle Chapman in Newark, New Jersey; and Chris Rugaber in Washington also contributed to this report.