Amazon is going higher.
The Web giant said it would boost its minimum wage for all U.S. employees to $15 an hour, giving a raise to more than 250,000 employees as well as 100,000 seasonal holiday workers.
The change goes into effect Nov. 1.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer.
Bezos encouraged his competitors and other large employers to make similar pay hikes.
Other retailers were already on the move, although not as aggressively.
Walmart Inc. this year, citing the benefit from changes to the tax code moved its minimum to $11 an hour. And Target last year raised its starting wage to $11 an hour from $10 and committed to keep moving the rate up to $15 by 2020.
The move to raise pay, while good PR, is also necessary in a tight labor market. The employment rate, currently 3.9 percent, has been extremely low this year, hovering at levels not seen in 18 years. The economy has been growing and steadily adding jobs, including 201,000 new positions in August.
Amazon is turning the change into an opportunity to be seen as a standard bearer in the area, although activists who have criticized the company’s treatment of workers will no doubt remain skeptical.
Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon’s global corporate affairs said: “We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago. 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.”
Amazon said its employees also receive “comprehensive healthcare, including medical, dental, and vision coverage” as well as life and disability insurance, up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave and a 401(k) matching program.