A new study found that 700 Amazon employees in Ohio are on food stamps
It’s likely most of those receiving the benefits are part-time workers at Amazon’s large warehouses in Columbus
By Dennis Green
As Amazon grows, so does its impact on local economies.
A new study by Policy Matters Ohio — a non-profit policy research organisation focused on issues that impact low-income residents — found that as of August, more than 700 Amazon employees that live in Ohio also draw benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP), or the modern-day equivalent of food stamps.
That means that about 10 per cent of all Amazon’s employees in the state are in the programme. It also means that Amazon has quickly risen in the rankings of the biggest employers with workers on SNAP.
“The sudden emergence of Amazon as an employer of so many who need that assistance raises a question: Why is this giant, successful company offering such limited pay and hours of work that many of its workers need help buying food?” Policy Matters research director Zach Schiller said in a release.
Though this number includes both full-time and part-time workers, Policy Matters figures it’s likely mostly part-time workers. The largest source is likely two fulfilment centres in the Cleveland, Ohio area.
Other large employers in the state, like Walmart, Kroger, Home Depot, the Cleveland Clinic, and Target also have employees that draw benefits from SNAP. The programme is the widest government assistance programme, and it’s made even more accessible for larger families.
Amazon’s position is slightly different, as many of its fulfilment centres are built using tax breaks and other publicly funded incentives. All told, since 2014, Amazon has gotten a nine-figure sum — and counting — in incentives to build data and fulfilment centres in Ohio alone, according to a Bloomberg report. A workforce that also draws on food stamps is seen as increasing the strain on public resources.
“The state and local tax incentives Amazon receives doesn’t include the tens of thousands of dollars its Ohio workers need each month in food benefits,” Schiller said. “When you consider that, the subsidies are even larger.”
An Amazon spokesperson told The Daily Beast: “Amazon full-time hourly employees in Ohio earn between US$14.50 and US$15 an hour as a starting wage with regular pay increases plus Amazon stock and performance based bonuses. We also provide comprehensive benefits which include health, vision, and dental insurance coverage starting on day one, generous maternity and family leave, tuition for career education, and a network of support to succeed.”