Here’s how much more Jeff Bezos and Walmart heirs made than their employees during the pandemic

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Walmart heirs have made 35 times the amount given to their companies’ roughly 2.5 million workers during the pandemic, according to a Brookings Institution report.
  • Amazon and Walmart gave employees just $0.99 and $0.71 extra per hour over the course of the pandemic, which was significantly less than competitors Best Buy and Target, the report found.
  • “The difference between Walmart and Amazon’s generosity and their competitors is especially striking given the companies’ rhetoric,” the Brookings report said.

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos and the heirs to Walmart have made approximately $116 billion during the pandemic even as their employees have made a fraction of that in hazard pay, according to a Brookings Institution report.

Jeff Bezos and the Walmart heirs, the Walton family, have made 35 times the amount their companies gave to more than 2.5 million workers in pandemic-related hazard pay, according to the December Brookings Institution report. Amazon and Walmart have given significantly less than competitors such as Best Buy, Target and Costco.

“The difference between Walmart and Amazon’s generosity and their competitors is especially striking given the companies’ rhetoric,” the Brookings report said.

Bezos’ personal fortune has increased by more than $75 billion since March, according to Brookings. That is 42 times how much Amazon has paid its 1 million employees in hazard pay in 2020. A December Business Insider analysis found that Bezos’ 2020 wealth increase spiked particularly in April as coronavirus spread around the world and Amazon’s stock price increased significantly.

The three heirs to Walmart – Alice, Jim and Rob Walton – have seen their total fortune grow by more than $40 billion, 26 times the hazard pay the company has given its 1.5 million workers, according to the report.

“At the end of the day, I am making you a rich person and I am putting myself at jeopardy,” an anonymous Walmart worker told Brookings in August.

Walmart recently announced pay increases for employees who work 40 hours a week and earn a starting salary. However, the increase amounts to $0.71 per hour extra, much less than what its competitors Best Buy, Target and Costco have given their employees this year, according to the report.

Best Buy has given employees $3.20 per hour extra, Target has given $2.19 per hour extra and Costco has given $2 per hour extra, according to Brookings.

Amazon workers have received $0.99 extra per hour during the pandemic, the report found.

In addition, Amazon and Walmart have both benefited from the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to increased profits compared to last year.

“[Amazon and Walmart] have earned an extra $10.7 billion over last year’s profits during (and largely because of) the pandemic—a stunning 56% increase,” the Brookings report said.

But, Amazon and Walmart both pushed back against the report in statements to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“This study is flawed and doesn’t provide an accurate picture of wages, benefits and career opportunities that exist for employees at Amazon,” Amazon spokesperson Rachael Lighty told The DCNF. “More than two years ago we increased our starting wage to at least $15 per hour, more in some places, which is nearly twice the Federal minimum wage.”

“Unlike many of those cited in the study, Amazon offers full-time jobs with benefits starting on the first day of employment,” Lighty continued.

Lighty added that Amazon never implemented hazard pay. Rather, the company gave out $2.5 billion in bonuses globally, invested in worker safety and put money toward its Career Choice program that invests in student tuition.

Walmart spokesperson Delia Garcia told The DCNF that bonuses given to workers are simply based on the company’s performance. Walmart paid more than $319 million in third-quarter bonuses to employees on Nov. 25 and $388 million in fourth-quarter bonuses on Dec. 24 after reporting positive financial performances in both quarters.

“When we look at total compensation, the average total compensation and benefits for our hourly associates exceeds $18 an hour including part-time workers,” Garcia said.

Overall, in most U.S. business sectors, big businesses and corporations have prospered despite the ongoing pandemic, The Washington Post reported. But, small businesses have suffered seeing an overall decrease in revenue.

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