AUSTIN — More than 20,000 Amazon employees in Texas will have a little more take-home pay starting in November after the company announced it will raise wages to $15 per hour.
The wage increase will impact all hourly employees at Amazon and its subsidiaries, like Whole Foods.
“We wanted to be leaders on this issue,” a spokesperson for Amazon sent in an emailed statement. “The Amazon $15 minimum wage is more than double the federal minimum wage and it will make a difference in the lives of more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday.”
The online retailer hopes it helps with recruiting more employees.
Professor James Galbraith from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin praised the company’s decision. Galbraith says it sends a clear message of the company’s priorities.
“Yes, we can do this, yes we can survive, yes we will prosper,” Galbraith said.
Some worry local mom and pop shops will struggle to compete to keep employees.
“It probably sucks for the people who own businesses around [Austin], I’d imagine,” said Austin visitor Colin Calvert.
But Professor Galbraith says the move could pressure most large companies to act like Amazon did, meaning people would have more money to spend to keep businesses thriving altogether.
“This could very well be a dam break, a snowball effect which basically says if you’re a large corporation in this country and particularly in this retail distribution sector, you’re going to have to match what Amazon did,” he said.
Amazon says members from its public policy team plan to travel to the nation’s capital to meet with lawmakers, so they can advocate for a higher federal minimum wage. It also hopes the move can motivate the company’s competitors to raise wages.
“Taken together, these efforts could have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country,” the company’s spokesperson said.