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Report: 1 in 10 Ohio Amazon Workers Relies on SNAP

About 6,000 Ohioans are employed by Amazon. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
About 6,000 Ohioans are employed by Amazon. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
January 8, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Retailer Amazon has grown substantially in Ohio in recent years, creating thousands of jobs and promising more to come.

But a new analysis shows Amazon has also become one of the largest companies whose workers need help getting by.

According to the findings from Policy Matters Ohio, about 1 in 10 Amazon employees or family members received SNAP or food assistance benefits in August 2017.

The think tank's research director, Zach Schiller, says Amazon is now ranked 19th among Ohio employers whose workers get public assistance – when months before, it wasn't even on the list.

"Amazon has got to be, if not the top, right near the top in terms of its growth, from a standing start to a major employer in the state,” Schiller points out. “So, as they seem to represent much of the future of work, we need to be especially watchful of – well, what kind of work is it?"

Amazon has about 6,000 workers in Ohio.

In a written statement, the Ohio Development Services Agency said, "Amazon has created thousands of new jobs and generated millions of dollars in new payroll consistent with Ohio's requirements for economic incentives."

Amazon has not commented on the report.

Schiller notes the Cleveland Clinic, Kroger and Walmart are among the other major Ohio businesses with large numbers of employees receiving food assistance, which he says illustrates that most SNAP recipients are working.

"The point here is not to come down on the families who need food assistance,” he stresses. “It's to say, 'Why is it that very successful, major employers are operating in a way that substantial numbers of their employees need to depend on this kind of assistance?'"

Schiller notes that Amazon receives millions of dollars in state and local tax incentives.

"Especially as an employer that I think is seen as a 21st century employer that represents the wave of the future, I think we need to be especially concerned with whether the work conditions there are what they should be, and whether we the public should be contributing to that with subsidies," he states.

In Ohio, Amazon operates data centers, warehouses and wind farms, and the state has put in a bid to become home to the company's second headquarters.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH