Commentary, News

New report: Amazon a top employer of food assistance recipients

Good lord — maybe this is why Amazon is considering coming to North Carolina.

A new report for The Intercept by reporter Claire Brown of the New Food Economy (a UNC-Chapel Hill grad) reveals that the retailing giant Amazon is employing lots of workers at such low wages that they qualify for food assistance. This is from Brown’s story (“Amazon Gets Huge Subsidies to Provide Good Jobs — but It’s a Top Employer of SNAP Recipients in at Least Five States”):

“Later this year, Amazon will begin accepting grocery orders from customers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal anti-poverty program formerly known as food stamps. As the nation’s largest e-commerce grocer, Amazon stands to profit more than any other retailer when the $70 billion program goes online after an initial eight-state pilot.

But this new revenue will effectively function as a double subsidy for the company: In Arizona, new data suggests that one in three of the company’s own employees depend on SNAP to put food on the table. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, the figure appears to be around one in 10. Overall, of five states that responded to a public records request for a list of their top employers of SNAP recipients, Amazon cracked the top 20 in four….

The American people are financing Amazon’s pursuit of an e-commerce monopoly every step of the way: first, with tax breaks, subsidies, and infrastructure improvements meant to lure fulfillment centers into town, and later with federal transfers to pay for warehouse workers’ food. And soon, when the company begins accepting SNAP dollars to purchase its goods, a third transfer of public wealth to private hands will become a part of the company’s business model.”

In addition to being just plain disgraceful, this hard truth about Amazon’s penurious pay policies is also, obviously, lousy publicity for a monstrously large corporation that actively seeks other public subsidies from states and localities seeking to site facilities in their areas. All of which might explain why North Carolina could be a perfect match for Amazon — at least in the company’s eyes. This since our legislative leaders generally don’t believe in giving food assistance to people in need.

At least, that’s the conclusion that one can easily draw from the repeated successful efforts and threats of GOP leaders to slash eligibility for SNAP benefits — even in struggling areas of the state in which the prospect for finding gainful employment were essentially non-existent.

In short, conservatives seeking to woo Amazon have an obvious new motto for their recruitment efforts: “Come to North Carolina, Amazon. We care even less about your workers than you do!”

Click here to check out Brown’s story.

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