Amazon’s pay raise for over 500,000 workers comes at an interesting time

Amazon has announced that over 500,000 of its workers will get a permanent increase in their hourly wages starting in mid-May, from as low as an additional 50 cents an hour to as much as three extra dollars per hour (via GeekWire). That’s a substantial chunk of its 1.3 million person workforce getting at least a small pay bump, and the company shared that it’s investing over $1 billion in these pay increases. Amazon said that it’s also on a hiring spree for “tens of thousands of jobs across our operations in the US.”

Amazon previously recognized its warehouse and delivery workers with a $2 pay bump last March as the company worked to meet increased demand during the pandemic, but that was a temporary raise that disappeared in May 2020, shortly after the United States had reached 100,000 deaths; the coronavirus pandemic has killed over 400,000 additional people in the United States since then. The company confirmed that the pay bumps announced Wednesday are permanent, however, and new hires will be eligible for them as well.

Here’s the full text of Amazon’s announcement, from Amazon’s Darcie Henry:

Amazon is hiring now for tens of thousands of jobs across our operations in the U.S., and we’re looking for great people to join our Customer Fulfillment, Delivery, Package Sortation, and Specialty Fulfillment teams. In support of this effort, we pulled forward our annual fall pay review for these teams and will be rolling out increases from mid-May through early June.

More than 500,000 people will see an increase between at least 50 cents and $3 an hour, which is an investment of over $1 billion in incremental pay for these employees. This is on top of our already industry-leading starting wage of at least $15 an hour and the more than $2.5 billion that we invested last year in additional bonuses and incentives for front-line teams. These jobs come with a range of great benefits, like medical, dental, and vision coverage, parental leave, ways to save for the future, and opportunities for career advancement—all in a safe and inclusive environment that’s been ranked among the best workplaces in the world.

Other teams are continuing with their regular annual compensation review plans, which will occur throughout the remainder of 2021.

Wednesday’s news comes just a day before the company’s earnings tomorrow, April 29th. It also arrives as a fired Amazon worker is attempting to unionize other warehouse employees after the failed union vote in Bessemer, Alabama.