The Atlantic Investigates How Amazon Impacts Poor Communities

Date: 2 Feb 2018 | posted in: Media Coverage | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In the News: Stacy Mitchell & Olivia LaVecchia

February 1st, 2018

Media Outlet: The Atlantic

In the waves and waves of content around Amazon’s growing dominance it is difficult to know what to read. We humbly recommend this piece from The Atlantic‘s Business Editor Alana Semuels about a part of the story on Amazon that may be lost in the conversation around Amazon HQ2.

ILSR co-director and Community-Scaled Economy initiative director Stacy Mitchell contributed to Semuels’s reporting of Amazon’s warehouse in San Bernardino, California. This piece also details what Amazon’s warehouse network means for America.

Our research on Amazon’s warehouse network also contributed to the piece, in general. Read our full Amazon report here.

Here is Mitchell’s contribution and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s citation:

The lack of other opportunities for people like Gabriel Alvarado illuminates the problem these communities face when deciding to offer tax breaks and incentives to compete for Amazon to build warehouses in their towns. If these places don’t get a new Amazon facility, they won’t instead get companies like Stater Brothers that are willing to come in and pay double or triple the minimum wage for jobs that don’t require a college education. For many places, the choice is not between Amazon or another, better employer. The choice, instead, is Amazon or nothing. “There’s this way in which Amazon’s warehouses are perceived to be a good thing for a community, but that’s only because the context in which they are being proposed and built is so devoid of better opportunities,” said Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable community development. “It’s an indicator of how badly our economy is doing in terms of providing meaningful and valuable opportunities for people.”

The arrival of Amazon may have been good for other businesses in the Inland Empire, but its effects on individual residents seem less positive. While warehousing and storage was one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Inland Empire over the past decade, adding 35,800 jobs, the area also has the lowest annual private-sector average wage out of the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. A report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that Amazon paid 11 percent less than the average warehouse in the Inland Empire; a similar analysis by The Economist found that workers earn about 10 percent less in areas where Amazon operates than similar workers employed elsewhere.

Read the full story here.

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Nick Stumo-Langer
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Nick Stumo-Langer

Nick Stumo-Langer was Communications Manager at ILSR working for all five initiatives. He ran ILSR's Facebook and Twitter profiles and builds relationships with reporters. He is an alumnus of St. Olaf College and animated by the concerns of monopoly power across our economy.