Amazon said starting hires will be paid $17 per hour as well as sign-up bonuses of as much as $1,000 per person. A further $100 will be paid to new employees who can provide proof of a coronavirus vaccination, the company said.
The job plans followed a statement from McDonald's USA earlier Thursday that it will roll out pay increases for employees at company-owned restaurants over the next few months, with the aim of increasing average hourly pay to $15 an hour by 2024.
“Working at Amazon also comes with an unwavering commitment to safety, especially as we continue to navigate a global pandemic," said Amazon's vice president of global customer fulfillment. "In addition to the great pay and robust benefits available to new hires starting on their first day, we’re offering a $100 benefit to new hires who come to Amazon already vaccinated for COVID-19.”
Amazon shares were marked 1.25% higher in early trading Thursday to change hands at $3,190.50 each.
Last month, Amazon said it plans to boost pay by between 50 cents and $3 per hour for its 500,000-strong workforce, a move it forecast would cost around $1 billion.
Wage pressures have been simmering in the U.S. labor market for the past few months, while at the same time many companies -- particularly small businesses -- have reported difficultly in bringing back staff as states re-open and the pandemic wanes.
April JOLTS job openings data indicating 8.1 million open positions, the highest on record, while last week's April non-farm payrolls reported showed average hourly earnings rise 0.7% on the month -- against a forecast of -0.1% -- and 0.3% on the year.
Amazon booked around $2 billion in COVID-related operating costs over the first quarter, linked in part to what it described as "direct investments in employee safety", and forecast a further $1.5 billion for the three months ending in June.