Amazon will increase pay for U.S. frontline employees beginning in October 2022 through a nearly $1 billion investment over the course of the next year. This change will raise the average starting pay for customer fulfillment and transportation departments to more than $19 per hour up from an hourly rate of $18. Employees will earn between $16 to $26 per hour depending on position and region within the U.S.
Additionally, the ecommerce giant will activate a new benefit named Anytime Pay for all U.S. operations, corporate and technology workers. This added benefit will allow employees to access up to 70% of their eligible earned pay free of fees whenever they choose.
Amazon will also introduce the Amazon Intelligence Initiative, which places employees in engineering roles within Amazon Web Services (AWS) with a focus on its Dedicated Cloud. The 12- to 14-month development program has been designed to enhance the technical skills of these employees who then work alongside the company’s top AWS engineers. The training period is considered full-time employment and employees are placed into the appropriate roles upon completion of the program. In July, Amazon revealed that it would create more than 4,000 new corporate and technology positions in the UK.
These initiatives to improve wages and benefits are being implemented during a time when Amazon is facing calls to improve its treatment of employees, in addition to worker unionization efforts.
“Frontline employees across customer fulfillment and transportation will now earn, on average, more than $19 per hour in the U.S., and they also have access to a growing range of comprehensive benefits to support themselves and their families,” said John Felton, Amazon’s SVP of Worldwide Operations in a statement.
Amazon is also extending a hand to SMBs that sell within its U.S. store through its Amazon Community Lending program, which launched as a pilot last year and will now become a long-term initiative. Through a partnership with Lendistry, the program supports urban and rural small business that are located in underserved communities by providing short-term loans at competitive rates. These loans will range from $10,000 to $250,000 under terms up to five years.
Through the program, Amazon plans to loan more than $150 million over the next three years, building upon its lending of $35 million to more than 800 sellers since the program launched. Amazon’s efforts to help SMBs are being made as the company faces a lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, alleging that the company engaged in anticompetitive price blocking that penalized sellers for lower off-Amazon pricing and increased prices for customers in the state.