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Amazon Wage Increase Could Impact Other Employers In Charlotte Region

The Amazon Fulfillment Center in Concord.
Cole del Charco
The Amazon Fulfillment Center in Concord.

Amazon announced plans to increase the minimum wage it pays workers to $15 an hour Tuesday.

The company employs hundreds in the Charlotte region and plans to expand with a plant near Charlotte Douglas International Airport and another in Kannapolis. The pay bump will certainly be felt by Amazon's employees, but will also be felt by other employers competing for workers.

Phillip Wilson has been working at the Concord location for the last two and a half years and said he and others were disappointed with the amount of money they got in a pay rise in September.

"But then yesterday, hearing on the news, and them coming in and informing us of the increase — it was very well welcome, let's put it that way," Wilson said.

Credit Cole del Charco / WFAE
Semi trucks at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Concord.

Wilson works four shifts in two days a week. He was making $12.35 an hour after that September raise, but starting in November, he'll make $15. While it won't drastically change his lifestyle, Wilson said it's a nice increase and most people working with him are excited about it.

Some people who work for Amazon could see a 10 percent pay increase. Peter Zeiler, the Director of the Mecklenburg County Office of Economic Development said those $2,000 or $3,000 could mean a lot.

"That’s the difference between being able to do, for example, a repair on a vehicle to keep getting your children to school on time, it could be the difference between being able to move from a two-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom apartment to accommodate your growing family," Zeiler said. "So there’s going to be some amount of relief and help for those families that may be struggling."

The raise has already put pressure on other national companies, Target, and others, have said they will start paying employees $15 an hour. Zeiler said this pressure could extend to local businesses and encourage or force them to increase their wages — although it may take some time. 

There are hundreds of thousands of people in the Charlotte, Concord and Gastonia area who make less than $15 an hour, according to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While wages may increase, the effect on the local economy probably won't be very large, Zeiler said.

But, to Wilson and others working at the distribution center, the raise helps.

"It's greatly appreciated, greatly appreciated," Wilson said.