SEATTLE — Amazon on Tuesday said it would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its United States workers.
It said the pay increase would include part-time workers and those hired through temporary agencies. The company said it would also lobby Washington to raise the federal minimum wage.
Amazon said the new wages would apply to more than 250,000 Amazon employees, including those at the grocery chain Whole Foods, as well as the more than 100,000 seasonal employees it will hire for the holiday season. It had previously said the average hourly wage, including stock and incentive bonuses, for a full-time workers at the fulfillment centers was more than $15 an hour, but it had not disclosed pay for part-time and contract workers.
Amazon has come under increased scrutiny for the wages and conditions of its work force, particularly at the fulfillment centers where it packages and sorts orders, and with the contract drivers who make last-mile deliveries. Some workers at the grocery chain Whole Foods, which Amazon bought last year, have recently made a push to organize a union.
Senator Bernie Sanders, the liberal independent from Vermont, has taken on Amazon directly, pointing to new financial disclosures from the company showing that its median pay is $28,446, meaning half of its employees make less. Amazon, which is typically reserved when responding to criticism, publicly pushed back, saying Sanders’s statements were “misleading” and that median pay for its full-time employees in the United States was $34,123.
The average wage for retail sales people across the United States is $13.20 an hour, according to federal data.
For all retail workers, including sales people, cashiers and supervisors, the average wage is $18.85.
The tight labor market has slowly been pushing wages higher. Last year Target announced it would raise minimum pay to $15 an hour by 2020, and Costco has raised its starting pay to at least $14 per hour.
The shift to online shopping has both created a boom in jobs at fulfillment centers and a bust in jobs at physical retailers stumbling to stay in business.
Follow Karen Weise on Twitter: @kyweise.