Amazon’s minimum wage increase improves worker livelihood

In Opinion
A Whole Foods employee's smock stuffed with $20 bills.
(Photo Illustration Brook Farien)

It is not breaking news that a minimum wage job cannot sustain a realistic lifestyle, but Amazon’s employees got some relief when the company announced it would increase minimum wages for all its workers across the United States to $15 an hour.

This inclusive gesture by Amazon can be seen as a resounding win for workers and a step toward livable wages for all.

Employees receiving this pay increase will still get all of the benefits that were given to them as a part of their benefit package. Those who already make $15 an hour will also receive this boost to their checks.

Amazon is offering competitive wages that will benefit students looking for a career right after college, the middle-aged workers who don’t have a lengthy education or even older adults re-entering the workforce who are looking to make enough to contribute to a household again.

The company’s move may indicate the beginning of a chain reaction if companies follow suit in order to compete for the best workforce. Higher wages will attract job applicants trying to improve their standard of living.

Other companies located within close proximity to Amazon might have a hard time finding employees and this increase may change how companies are able to attract workers, said Pedro Amaral, Cal State Fullerton professor of economics.

Amazon also has voiced support for raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Since July 14, 2009, the federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25, with many wondering if this would ever change. California is already set to increase its minimum wage to $15 by 2022, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations.

However, not everyone thinks this is a good idea. There is always a chance that rising wages will cause businesses to increase prices to their customers, harming consumers. Wages would be higher, but everything would cost more.

“The economists have been saying this stuff for years, and there is research showing that things can go both ways,” Amaral said.

For wage earners, affordable living might seem unattainable — like running through a maze, getting lost in distractions along the way and never finding the end. Rising wages help workers navigate their way to a better life.

Amazon is a large business that has a major impact on the economy. Its size keeps prices low for consumers and provides the potential for many job opportunities. This small action taken by Amazon can guide the economy in the right direction, setting off a chain reaction that others can choose to follow.

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