Amazon will raise company's minimum wage to $15 for all United States employees

"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead", Bezos said.

Higher wages could further pressure margins at retailers that are already getting squeezed by higher transportation and raw materials costs, but the $15 still compares unfavorably with average US blue collar wages.

Amazon will be raising its minimum wage to $15 for all US employees, the company said in an announcement Tuesday.

The corporation revealed its median pay this past spring, under a new law that requires companies to report the earnings gap between their CEOs and their regular workers.

Amazon's public policy team will also begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. Amazon employs over 575,000 people worldwide.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, has lashed out at Amazon recently for failing to pay a "living wage", to workers, leaving some dependent on safety-net programs like food stamps and Medicaid. That's happened while the e-commerce giant's market value has surged to just under $1 trillion and Bezos has become the world's richest person.

The retail giant has faced criticism for not paying its workers enough, especially in light of Bezos' vast wealth: he's now considered the richest person in the world with a net worth of about $165 billion. That revelation came from The Intercept, which reported that in four out of the five states that provided data, Amazon was one of the top employers of SNAP recipients.

The company didn't say how many workers were making less than $15 an hour.

The company said Tuesday the wage hike will benefit more than 350,000 workers, which includes full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal positions. The federal minimum wage hasn't risen since 2009. The company has named 20 cities as finalists, including Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C. But in two states (Georgia and Wyoming), it's lower, at $5.15.

The hourly minimum wage in the London area will rise to 10.50 pounds ($13.60), and 9.50 pounds in the rest of the United Kingdom, affecting some 37,000 current and seasonal employees, according to a separate statement.

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