Back in 2018, Amazon announced a starting wage of at least $15 an hour for all of our full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees across the U.S.—on top of the comprehensive healthcare, paid leave, and upskilling benefits that the company provides. With this wage announcement, every hourly employee on our team received a raise. We expected to see a positive response internally and were thrilled by the clear boost in employee morale and retention, as well as the surge in job applicants.
Employees who saw their take-home pay increase told us that they had an easier time providing for their families and were able to spend on things like car repairs, home improvement projects, tuition, and extracurricular activities for their kids. We’ve shared the experiences of some of these team members, including Remington, Kimberly, and Luv-Luv. But they’re only part of a larger story about the powerful impact of Amazon’s $15-an-hour starting wage over the past two and a half years. Although we hoped Amazon’s investment in our workforce would strengthen the communities where we operate, what we’ve seen has exceeded our expectations. Not only have more than 10 major employers—ranging from Target to Costco to Under Armour—raised their hourly rate in the past year alone, the small businesses that Amazon employees rely on in their communities have been able to grow and thrive.
Multiple business owners say they’ve been able to make it through the pandemic in part because their neighborhood Amazon employees have become loyal customers. That’s the experience of Sylvia Burke and François Theodore, the wife-and-husband team who serve jerk chicken and other Caribbean-inspired specialties at their restaurant—Sylvia’s Café—near our 2.4-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Opa-locka, Florida. As Sylvia Burke put it: "Amazon is a big deal for this neighborhood. Not only me, but the gas station…[and] all the businesses in the neighborhood."
We’re proud to share the story of Sylvia's Café here. This video is the first in a new series of stories we're calling Rising Tide that shows how the “Amazon effect” is helping neighboring small businesses launch, grow, and thrive. To date, we've invested more than $9.5 billion in Florida, created over 52,000 jobs and 29,000 indirect jobs, and supported a growing network of neighborhood businesses—a rising tide that will only continue.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll be sharing additional video stories and taking you to more parts of the country. You'll see examples of how Amazon’s wage has benefited communities and invigorated local economies.
As Amazon continues to advocate for a long-overdue increase to the federal minimum wage, which has been stagnating at $7.25 an hour since 2009, we hope these stories serve as a proof point for what can be achieved—for businesses, employees, and communities—by raising the minimum wage for all U.S. workers.