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Use Amazon HQ2 to Boost Your Pay Without Even Applying for a Job There

An Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle
An Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Elaine Thompson/AP Photo


You’ve probably seen all the hoopla over Amazon’s new headquarters — also known as HQ2.

As a data journalist, I’ve followed it pretty dang closely. But you, as a normal human being, probably haven’t — even if your city made Amazon’s short list of potential landing spots.

But it might matter quite a bit if Amazon chooses your city for HQ2. Especially if you, like most Americans, have been struggling with stagnant pay.

“The location of Amazon's second headquarters will see wages rise,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, in an email.

See, there’s a tight labor market right now, meaning companies want to hire but aren’t able to find the workers they need. And with Amazon planning to hire 50,000 for its new mothership, the competition for employees is going to heat up in the chosen city.

“Plus, the new employees will spend money in the local economy, raising demand for other local businesses and lifting their wages, too,” Kolko said.

This ostensible pay raises will come at a time when wages don’t seem to be rising with the explosive growth in the stock market and other economic indicators. When you adjust for inflation, hourly pay went up a whopping 4 cents in 2017.

Still, the job market is a tricky thing to predict, and there are plenty of factors that could influence wages if Amazon plops its new headquarters in your backyard.

“Depending on the pacing of this hiring, the current size of the population and status of the labor market, and the potential for an influx of workers, the wage effect could be negligible,” said Cathy Barrera, chief economist of the online employment marketplace ZipRecruiter.

Workers might move in from outside the city, which means a fresh supply of labor and a less competitive job market for companies. And if a city is big enough, the new 50,000 workers might not even influence wages, she explained.

Womp, womp.

It could still benefit you to ask for a raise if Jeff Bezos anoints your city, especially since your local representatives are probably spending millions of tax dollars on the plan. I mean, what do you have to lose?

Alex is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He is definitely not a normal human being.

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