A study by Policy Matters Ohio revealed that 700 of Amazon’s 6,000 workers in Ohio are on food stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP), which are offered to people who live below the poverty line.
The study comes days after news that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos grabbed the title of richest man ever. According to Bloomberg, Bezos’ net worth is $105 billion.
Policy Matters Ohio, which bills itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan state policy research institute, describes its data collection methodology in a report about SNAP.
In a statement, Zach Schiller, Policy Matters’ research director said: “It is essential that hungry Americans get help affording meals. But it is troubling that so many of those who qualify are working and still don’t make enough to get by. 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?”
“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.”
Amazon, which ranks 19th on a list of the Ohio’s 50 large employers, received $125 million in grants and tax breaks.
Ohio also ranks 40th nationwide in “food insecurity,” which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as a household in which “lack of money or other resources reduced the food intake or disrupted the eating patterns of one or more household members during the year.”
Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson responded to the study in a statement:
“Amazon full-time hourly employees in Ohio earn between $14.50 and $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.”
JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart rebuffed the claims, noting that Amazon has brought thousands of jobs to the state.
“These full-time associates now have jobs that include compensation that pay 30 percent above the national average for retail workers, opportunities for professional advancement, benefits that include health coverage starting on day one, generous maternity and family leave, and 95 percent tuition assistance for careers regardless if they are with Amazon,” Englehart said.