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Amazon employees now earn just slightly less than US government vending machine attendants

Quartz logo Quartz 12/6/2018 Justin Rohrlich
a close up of a sign: Test pilot? There may be $48.84 an hour in your future. © Provided by Atlantic Media, Inc. Test pilot? There may be $48.84 an hour in your future.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the minimum wage for US federal contract employees—that is, the workers hired by contractors for government jobs—will rise to $10.60 from $10.35. It’s a scheduled $0.25 increase from 2014, when then-president Barack Obama signed an executive order raising the hourly minimum wage for people working for federal contractors to $10.10, with annual adjustments thereafter. (All workers, according to the regulations, are to receive an additional $4.48 per hour in health-and-welfare benefits.)

Last month, Amazon announced it would begin paying every one of its 350,000 US employees a minimum wage of $15 per hour. This covered not only full-time workers, but part-time, temporary, and seasonal ones, as well.

In New York City, the Taxi and Limousine Commission just set the nation’s first-ever minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare drivers, which will guarantee them take-home pay of $15 per hour, in line with the city’s standard minimum wage rate. The policy is expected to raise the average driver’s income by $9,600 per year.

No minimum wage in the country can dip below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, a figure that has not changed since 2009. Many states, counties, and cities, like New York, set their own higher minimum wages, which employers are required to pay.

But Amazon and Uber workers will be slightly worse off than some of those working for the federal government this coming year. There are about 3.7 million federal contract workers, who make up roughly 40% of the total US government workforce. The top 25 hourly pay rates on the federal schedule for the coming year cover a broad swath of occupations, as do the bottom 25. There are many similar job titles and pay rates within categories, which cover most, if not all, possible job titles the government may ever require—including carnival workers and umpires. Below is a selection from the highest and lowest compensation bands:

Top 25

  1. Flight Instructor: $52.81
  2. Engineering Technician VI: $52.76
  3. Test pilot: $48.84
  4. Registered nurse IV: $48.10
  5. Dental hygienist: $45.97
  6. Air traffic control specialist: $42.40
  7. Registered Nurse III, Anesthetist: $40.13
  8. Nuclear medicine technologist: $39.79
  9. Unexploded Ordnance Technician III: $39.07
  10. Librarian: $38.38
  11. Latent fingerprint technician II: $38.22
  12. Aerospace Structural Welder: $36.21
  13. Marketing analyst: $35.01
  14. Cable splicer: $34.63
  15. Mortician: $34.10
  16. Photographer V: $33.76
  17. Police officer II: $33.66
  18. Telephone lineman: $33.62
  19. Boiler tender: $33.55
  20. Administrative assistant: $33.16
  21. Airplane pilot: $32.60
  22. Tool and die maker: $31.12
  23. Blocker and bracer: $30.78
  24. Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant: $30.76
  25. Embalmer: $30.69

Bottom 25

  1. Carnival worker $9.27 ($10.35 in 2018)
  2. Cleaner, vehicles: $10.58
  3. Cashier: $10.85
  4. Waiter/waitress: $11.30
  5. Nursing assistant I: $11.75
  6. Lifeguard: $11.59
  7. Parking and lot attendant: $11.90
  8. Maid or houseman: $12.23
  9. Pruner: $12.66
  10. Presser, machine, shirts: $12.55
  11. Elevator operator: $12.97
  12. Child care attendant: $13.12
  13. Laboratory animal caretaker I: $13.24
  14. Store worker I: $13.32
  15. Carnival equipment operator: $13.59
  16. Sports official: $14.03
  17. Furniture handler: $14.06
  18. Baker: $14.14
  19. Taxi driver: $14.23
  20. Trail maintenance worker: $14.28
  21. Tire repairer: $14.44
  22. Window cleaner: $14.63
  23. Carnival equipment repairer: $14.63
  24. Bicycle repairer: $14.90
  25. Vending machine attendant: $15.48
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