By now, the business and labor worlds have absorbed Amazon’s news that it is raising entry-level pay toa minimum of $15 an hour.
The cries of joy from workers trying to feed a family and dismay (from corporate shareholders) have calmed. Now, analysts can engage with the new number to determine if it is a move for either good or ill.
Higher minimum wages became a political theme years ago, as the “Fight for $15” calls became louder and louder.
In 2015, Wal-Mart became the nation’s first mega-employer to raise the pay of its newest and entry-level employees. Observers and Wall Street alike were dubious about Wal-Mart’s motivations and its stock performed weakly throughout that year.
Today Wal-Mart looks like a trendsetter
Sen. Bernie Sanders adopted “Fight for $15” in his presidential campaign. Since then, other large employers announced both pay increases and improved worker benefits. The call for an increased starting wage became a political issue.
The city of Sea-Tac (Yes, like the airport), Washington was one of the first to pass the $15 an hour issue into law. Other municipalities followed suit, raising their minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, either over time or immediately.
This week, Amazon’s announcement may well be an inflection point. Large corporations are recognizing that $15 per hour is inevitable. That is unless they want more departures than O’Hare International on a Friday afternoon.
Amazon’s wage move will ripple into the corporate world
As fast food outfits and other retail operations haven’t, and probably can’t.
That’s because of Amazon’s vast influence in the corporate world and in the minds of upper-middle-class Americans.
Though Walmart has been a more proactive corporate citizen than Amazon, heading in the direction of taking care of its employees, the latter is perceived as a sexy and high tech company in ways Wal-Mart will never be.
“If Amazon is making a big move to increase worker pay, perhaps this is the thing the cool kids are doing now.”
Those words will draw broader realms of companies to do likewise. Look for more of the same as corporations and companies release third-quarter earnings reports to the public over the next month or so.
The ripple that we mentioned will spread out into other areas of the employee world. Middle-class earners (think 20-25 dollars an hour) may feel less pressure from below if $15 is the new floor. That will give them the courage they need to seek a better payday.
Average Hourly Pay And The Effect On The Economy Overall
Average hourly pay for non-managerial employees in the United States was $22.73 per hour as reported in August.
That release of pressure, as well as a historically low unemployment rate, could result in worker mobility the like of which corporate America has rarely seen.
Why do we at Money Examiners say that? A 15 buck an hour floor may embolden some less than enchanted with their job workers to quit and move somewhere even without an already firm job offer. It might allow some full-time workers to switch to part-time.
Or perhaps to focus on education, childcare, or new skills for a yet higher rate of pay.
The United States has progressed significantly during our long economic recovery. We are almost there in finding at least some employment for anyone who wants a job. But we haven’t succeeded in providing living family-wage jobs.
Nor have we helped out those who have been struggling for the better part of a decade. Is Amazon’s announcement the finish line in the distance that we have sought for so long? Perhaps it is.