People apparently lined up to work at Amazon’s warehouses and Whole Foods stores in the weeks following the tech giant’s announcement of a new $15 minimum wage for all workers in the U.S.
As part of its fourth quarter earnings Thursday, Amazon said 850,000 people applied for hourly positions at the company in the U.S. in October, following the minimum wage announcement. That doubles the previous record for most applications received in a month, the company said.
This is even more impressive given that we’re in a high employment economy. It’s almost like raising the minimum wage was a smart move for companies looking to attract workers… pic.twitter.com/DmuFgsn20Y
— Rani Molla (@ranimolla) January 31, 2019
The wage increase came after months of criticism and damning media reports that described harsh working conditions in Amazon warehouses. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had been lambasting Amazon for working conditions for weeks, praised the move and encouraged other companies to follow suit.
The new minimum wage took effect Nov. 1, and Amazon also pledged to lobby Congress to increase the federal minimum wage.
However, the enthusiasm for the wage increase was not all positive among Amazon workers. That’s because the tech giant announced plans to phase out stock options and monthly bonuses for its warehouse workers at the same time of the minimum wage increase.
In addition to upping the minimum wage in the U.S., it also increased pay in the U.K. to £10.50 in the London area and £9.50 outside London.
Amazon says its wage increases benefit more than 250,000 employees in the U.S., 17,000 workers in the U.K. and 200,000 people who were hired for seasonal work over the holiday season.
Amazon’s workforce is unique among tech giants. It employs plenty of well-payed techies, but it also employs thousands of hourly workers at its many distribution centers and physical retail stores. At the end of the fourth quarter Amazon employed 647,500 people worldwide, an increase of 14 percent over a year ago.