In Ohio Distribution Center, 10% Of Amazon Workers On Food Stamps

Mike Seyfang/Flickr

In spite of starting wages between $14-15/hour, keeping employee hours low may be driving the need for assistance.

In 2015, Amazon took advantage of generous tax incentives to open two distribution centers in the state of Ohio. According to Policy Matters Ohio, just two years later, ten percent of Amazon's employees in that state are in need of food stamps.

The data, obtained by the research group Policy Matters Ohio and shared with The Daily Beast, suggest chronic poverty in the once-promising Amazon centers. Policy Matters Ohio estimates that more than one in ten Amazon employees in Ohio receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, which are available to people and families living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, Amazon is living large in Ohio, receiving more than $125 million in tax breaks and cash grants to open new facilities in the state since 2014.

Amazon's response indicates that starting wages at the company are well above the minimum wage, as well as the fact that full-time employees enjoy generous benefits packages.

But as it turns out, keeping employees below full-time status could be why so many are in need of assistance:

Amazon employees’ SNAP eligibility might not be a matter of wages. Full-time staff at the Ohio centers receive between $14.50 and $15, job listings show. But workers might not be getting enough hours to earn a living wage.

“To the degree that Amazon has a lot of part-time employees, even if Amazon paid much more than minimum wage, they might still show up on the list,” [Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters Ohio] said. “If you have a lot of temporary workers, as Amazon does, you might also show up on the list.”

Policy Matters Ohio ranks the state's employers by number of employees receiving SNAP benefits - a list comprised largely of fast food restaurants and discount stores, with Walmart coming in at number one.

But Amazon is one of the fastest-risers through the ranks. As of the August 2017 data, Amazon ranked nineteenth in the state, with 1,430 employees in families receiving SNAP benefits.