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Amazon to pay $15 an hour to all U.S. employees

Amazon says it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all U.S. employees effective November 1.

The change applies to full-time, part-time and temporary workers.

Amazon says the $15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, plus 100,000 seasonal workers.

Critics, including independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have criticized the company for not paying workers enough.

"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO. "We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us."

The decision raises the stakes even further for Amazon's so-called HQ2 competition — its plan to create a second headquarters, with as many as 50,000 jobs. The company has named 20 cities as finalists, including Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Amazon said its public policy team will begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

"We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country," said Jay Carney, Amazon's senior vice president for global corporate affairs.