The numbers are in: the pandemic has brought a windfall of wealth for Amazon and Walmart. Jeff Bezos and the Walton have profited handsomely. But the workers who have created all this wealth have barely seen their pay increase.
“A new report from the Brookings Institute finds that while top retailers’ profits have “soared” during the coronavirus pandemic, pay for frontline workers has barely budged.
Brookings analyzed the earnings and compensation of frontline employees at 13 of the biggest retailers in the U.S. between March 13 and November 19 of this year, including Albertsons, Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Home Depot, Kroger, Target and Walmart. While the companies in the report made an average of 39% more in profit this year compared to 2019, pay for their essential workers increased by just 10% on average, or $1.11 per hour, over the course of the pandemic.
And while some of these companies continue to make record profits, it has been over 130 days, on average, since many frontline workers have received any hazard pay at all, Brookings reports. Most of the companies have “offered only modest or negligible extra compensation to workers,” even as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise across the country.
Best Buy, The Home Depot and Target are outliers, according to the report. These retailers provided the most generous temporary and permanent pay increases and bonuses to workers, paying them $2.53 more per hour on average since March. Best Buy and Target both permanently increased their minimum wages to $15 per hour, and The Home Depot permanently increased wages by around $1.25 per hour.
That’s compared to CVS Health, which only offered a bump of $0.21 per hour. A CVS Health spokesperson noted that the company gave ‘appreciation bonuses’ to nearly 180,000 workers, as well as $1,000 emergency grants to 3,000 workers. It also gave 24 hours of paid sick leave to part-time employees during the course of the pandemic.
Some of the least generous companies had the largest profits: Amazon and Walmart increased profits by of 53% and 45%, respectively, compared to last year. Their workers received an extra $0.95 per hour (Amazon) and $0.63 per hour (Walmart) since March. That is a 6% increase.
‘Meanwhile, Amazon and Walmart’s stock prices are up 65% and 41% since the start of the pandemic, adding more than $70 billion to the wealth of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, and $45 billion to the Walton family, the country’s richest family, who own more than half of Walmart’s shares,’ the report says.”
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