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Noah Smith

Amazon’s $15 Minimum Wage Should Be Just the Start

Big companies in thriving areas could easily pay even more.

From small beginnings….

From small beginnings….

Photographer: Bess Adler/Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc.’s decision to raise wages to $15 an hour for all of its U.S. workers is good news. It will mean more money in the pockets of thousands of hard-working Americans struggling to make ends meet. Even more importantly, Amazon’s example may start a trend, encouraging other companies to raise wages as well, and prompting workers to demand more.

This victory comes with several caveats. Amazon’s move comes after the company became the focus of rhetorical attacks from Senator Bernie Sanders on the left and Fox News talk-show host Tucker Carlson on the right, as well as a legislative effort from Sanders that singled out Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos by name. Such jawboning is an inconsistent and unreliable way to make policy, especially when accompanied by legislation of dubious value as in this case.