Amazon raising minimum wage for US workers to $15 per hour

Mr Bezos said he encouraged the company's competitors to increase their own minimum wages.

Higher wages could further pressure margins at retailers that are already getting squeezed by higher transportation and raw materials costs, but the $15 still compares unfavorably with average USA blue collar wages.

In a statement, CEO Jeff Bezos said that "we listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we wanted to lead". Amazon purchased the Whole Foods grocery chain in August 2017.

Amazon has a total of more than 575,000 employees around the world. Retail rival Target announced in its holiday hiring release it would raise minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2020.

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At the new pay rate, an Amazon employee who makes minimum wage would need to work more than 3 weeks (133 hours) to buy one share of the company's stock, which now sits above $2,000. Amazon's hourly operations and customer service employees, some who already make $15 per hour, will also see a wage increase, the Seattle company said.

Amazon has recently been targeted over its pay by Senator Bernie Sanders, who last month introduced a less-than-subtly-named piece of legislation called the Stop Bad Employers by Zering Out Subsidies-"Stop BEZOS"-Act".

The company, which bought Whole Foods Market in a $13.7 billion deal a year ago, opened a general store in New York City in September after launching a few small grocery shops known as Amazon Go in Seattle and Chicago. "The current rate of $7.25 was set almost a decade ago", said Jay Carney, Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs.

Beyond the US, Amazon announced it will pay 10.50 pounds an hour in London and 9.50 pounds in other parts of the UK. "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".

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