Amazon raises starting wage for its workers to $15 an hour

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"We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage", said Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon global corporate affairs.

Amazon's employment practices, especially for those working on the company's numerous front lines, have frequently been criticized.

Amazon, with more than 575,000 employees globally, took it a step further Tuesday, saying that it would become an advocate for better pay everywhere. Not to mention the company fought Seattle's Head Tax, that would have seen its tax liability increase, albeit slightly, to offset issues around affordable housing. It also applies to workers at subsidiaries such as Whole Foods. Bernie Sanders and others, Amazon stressed that the number reflects its employees' pay worldwide; the median salary for a full time employee in the US, the company said, is $34,123 - a figure it said should be compared to other retailers. "We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us".

Bezos is the world's richest man by a large margin-he is worth around $165 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index-but a year ago Amazon's median pay was just $28,446, which works out to around $14 an hour. And in January Walmart raised its starting wages to $11 per hour. "The current rate of $7.25 was set almost a decade ago".

The company's announcement comes just ahead of the holiday hiring season.

Amazon, which became the second company after Apple to cross $1 trillion in market value last month, paid its USA employees on average $34,123 past year.

Amazon shares, trading lower before the company announced the wage hike, were down less than 0.3 percent at $1,997.75 in trading before the bell.

Amazon is also increasing wages in some areas outside the U.S. The company announced that the minimum wage will be 10.50 pounds an hour in London and 9.50 pounds in other parts of the UK.