How Amazon’s $15 Minimum Wage Hike Will Pressure the Retail Industry

Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Amazon is upping the retail competition — starting with its own house.

The e-commerce giant announced today that it is raising its minimum wage to $15 for all employees across the United States. Effective Nov. 1, the hike will affect more than 250,000 full-time, part-time and temporary employees, including those hired by agencies as well as more than 100,000 who work seasonal schedules. (It would also apply to Whole Foods and other Amazon subsidiaries.)

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do and decided we want to lead,” founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

By urging its rivals to follow suit, Amazon puts even more pressure on Walmart and Target, as well as other major companies in the retail space that may or may not have announced pay bumps.

In January, Walmart said it would raise its starting wage to $11, from $9, reaping the benefits of the tax reform law that cut down corporate rates. On the other hand, Target stepped up its minimum hourly pay to $12, with plans to raise that number to $15 by 2020. (The big-box retailer announced its first hike to $11 last September.)

Together with the increase, Amazon shared that its public policy team will work with congressional members to campaign for a higher federal minimum wage, which is set at $7.25.

“We intend to advocate for a minimum-wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country,” said Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs.

Amazon employs more than 575,000 workers worldwide.

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