Survey Reveals Amazon Warehouse Workers Struggling with Basic Living Costs

Survey Reveals Amazon Warehouse Workers Struggling with Basic Living Costs

Despite Inc. raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour five years ago, a significant number of the company’s warehouse employees report difficulties affording essentials like food and housing, according to a recent study. The research, conducted by the University of Illinois Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development and published on May 15, sought insights into the economic challenges faced by these workers.

The study surveyed Amazon warehouse employees across the United States, questioning them about their ability to meet basic needs, such as paying for meals and securing stable housing. A startling 53% of the participants reported experiencing food insecurity, and 48% faced housing difficulties in the past three months.

Researchers found that those who had taken unpaid leave due to workplace injuries were particularly vulnerable to economic hardships. “While Amazon is not the only company where workers face these challenges, they are not leading the way in providing jobs that sustain families,” remarked Sanjay Pinto, one of the study’s authors.

Amazon, a giant in logistics and e-commerce, has faced ongoing scrutiny over its treatment of workers, particularly regarding safety and injuries in its warehouses. Efforts to improve conditions have included automating some tasks to reduce repetitive motion injuries. However, the economic well-being of its workers remains a pressing issue.

The study’s methodology involved reaching out to Amazon employees through social media and conducting the survey online, with measures to ensure the authenticity of responses. Out of 1,484 participants across 42 states, the results highlighted that a third of them relied on government assistance programs like food stamps or Medicaid in recent months.

This finding echoes a 2020 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which identified Amazon as one of the top employers of workers receiving food assistance in several states. Despite Amazon stating that the average wage for their warehouse and transportation workers is over $20.50 an hour, the survey indicated most workers earn between $16 and $20 an hour.

The study also revealed that while 65% of Amazon workers reported earning more than at their previous job, advancement within the company is limited, with only 13% receiving a promotion during their tenure.

Beth Gutelius, another co-author, expressed concern over the findings: “The plight of Amazon workers reflects a broader trend of diminishing expectations among American workers regarding their employers.” The study, funded by organizations including the Ford Foundation and Oxfam America, highlights the growing disparity between worker wages and the cost of living, emphasizing the need for more robust employee support systems.

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