Image: © Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

Amazon ups its minimum wage

After lots of criticism about how it treats its workers, the company said it will now pay everyone at least $15 an hour.

What it means: Amazon is one of the most valuable companies ever. Its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world. So you can sorta see why people got so pissed off about the fact it didn’t pay most of its workers much. Until now, the median wage (that’s the wage of the person who has an equal number of people paid more and less than them) of Amazon’s American employees was $13 an hour. Bezos gets 59x that, or $767 an hour.

After being slammed by newspapers, campaign groups and Bernie Sanders, Amazon said it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’ll make about 250,000 employees better off. Amazon even said it’d campaign for the US government to raise the national minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour and hasn’t been raised in a decade.

But most people don’t think Amazon’s change of heart is based on any concern for its employees' wellbeing. Holiday season is coming up, which means Amazon will soon be trying to hire lots of seasonal workers. (Last year Amazon sold $1 billion worth of stuff on Black Friday, which happens the day after Thanksgiving). But unemployment is really low in the US at the moment (under 4 percent) which means workers aren’t struggling to find a job and can be choosy about where they work. Offering them more money means they’re more likely to pick Amazon.

This might well be true. But Bezos and his buddies aren’t the only people who have benefited from Amazon lowballing its workers. Amazon is so popular partly because it sells its stuff so cheap. Keeping its profit margins low meant we consumers got a better deal, but gave the company less cash to spend on things like wages. Paying workers $2 an hour more is expected to cost Amazon $1 billion a year. That’s not small change, even for a company as rich as Amazon. It has already raised the price of its Prime membership.

Recent articles

Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?