Data from states shows thousands of Amazon employees are on food stamps

  • Amazon is one of the top employers of those who receive SNAP benefits, otherwise known as food stamps, in at least five states.
  • Nearly one in three Amazon employees in Arizona and 1 in 10 in Ohio were on food stamps or lived with someone who was in 2017, according to data obtained by nonprofit New Food Economy from state governments. In Pennsylvania, one in 10 Amazon employees were on food stamps.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, a prominent critic of Amazon, has announced plans to introduce legislation that would tax companies when their employees are on government assistance.

A number of Amazon employees in at least five states are on food stamps, or the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

That’s according to data obtained by nonprofit New Food Economy from state governments in the US. New Food was able to get data from five states: Arizona, Kansas, Ohio, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

The New Food Economy reports nearly one in three Amazon employees – 1,800 people – in Arizona were on food stamps or lived with someone who was in 2017. In Pennsylvania, one in 10 Amazon employees – more than 1,000 – were on food stamps.

A separate study by Policy Matters Ohio published in January found that 700 Amazon workers in the state received food stamp benefits.

That means that about 10% of all Amazon’s employees in the state are in the program. It also means that Amazon has quickly risen in the rankings of the biggest employers with workers on SNAP, joining large corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s.

A spokesperson told the Washington Post that the numbers were “misleading because they include people who only worked for Amazon for a short period of time and/or who chose to work part-time. We have hundreds of full-time roles available, however, some prefer part-time for the flexibility or other personal reasons.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, a vocal critic of Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, announced on Friday he will be introducing legislation to the US Senate on September 5 that would impose a 100% tax on companies with more than 500 employees and workers employees on public assistance, according to the Washington Post. For example, if an employee draws $100 from food stamps, that money would be taxed from that individual’s employer.

More than $150 billion in federal funds goes to pay low wage workers in the form of federal assistance. Sanders’ move is designed to encourage employers to pay more, what he and proponents call a “living wage.”

Amazon defended its warehouse employee pay in a statement to Business Insider.

“We encourage anyone to compare our pay and benefits to other retailers. Amazon is proud to have created over 130,000 new jobs last year alone. These are good jobs with highly competitive pay and full benefits. In the U.S., the average hourly wage for a full-time associate in our fulfillment centers, including cash, stock, and incentive bonuses, is over $15/hour before overtime,” according to an Amazon spokesperson.

“That’s in addition to our full benefits package that includes health, vision and dental insurance, retirement, generous parental leave, and skills training for in-demand jobs through our Career Choice program, which has over 16,000 participants.”