Corporate behemoth Amazon has become one of the loudest voices lobbying the federal government to enact a $15 an hour minimum wage, and several small business advocates are suggesting it's not for altruistic reasons.
Amazon began paying its own workers that wage back in 2018, but recently began taking out expensive, full-page newspaper ads pressuring lawmakers in D.C. to force their small business competitors to do the same.
The multinational e-commerce company benefited tremendously by coronavirus-inspired economic lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world. Unable to leave their homes to conduct business locally, consumers were forced to go online. Amazon's bottom line surged throughout 2020, with the company poised to soon have over 1.2 million workers employed globally.
"Amazon shares hit record highs in April on the back of unprecedented demand from consumers, and the stock has continued to rise, adding hundreds of billions to its market value and giving investors a gain of more than 86%" in 2020, CNBC reported last summer.
But Amazon's success has frequently meant increased strain on local "mom and pop" small businesses. Devastated by economic shutdowns, many have been forced to subsist on what little stimulus relief has come from government.
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease across the country, small business owners are desperate to entice consumers to return. But the imposition of a mandatory $15 an hour minimum wage for workers would likely be the final straw, tipping many small businesses into insolvency.
Economists reason that Amazon's support for such a federally mandated increase is likely a tactical strategy aimed at eliminating their small business rivals once for all.
President Joe Biden has included a $15 an hour minimum wage hike in his $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan."