The pay increase, effective from next month, will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees in the United States as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired across the country this holiday season, the company said.
CEO Jeff Bezos said "we listened to our critics" and "decided we wanted to lead". "The current rate of $7.25 was set almost a decade ago", Jay Carney, Amazon's senior vice president of global corporate affairs, said in a statement. Amazon most likely already anticipates a federal minimum-wage increase to coincide with the minimum-wage increases already happening in some blue states.
But the company isn't stopping with raising its own minimum wage.
Given Amazon's size and clout, the move Tuesday is a major victory for the $15-an-hour movement, which has organized protests of fast-food, gas station and other low-paid workers.
The increase also applies to all Amazon subsidiaries, like Whole Foods.
The online retailing giant, which has several huge depots in Doncaster, is raising pay for hundreds of thousands of workers in the USA and the UK. The London Living Wage is 10.20 per hour.
The company is the second-most valuable in the index after Apple Inc.
Amazon, which became the second company after Apple to cross $US1 trillion in market value last month, now pays around $US11 per hour. It represents a raise to about US$30,000 a year for a full-time worker, 20 per cent above the federal poverty level for a family of four.
The largest USA retail employers have been leading the effort to increase the minimum wage.
The company - which offers online shoppers an unparalleled combination of ease, speedy delivery and choice that few can match - has faced stinging criticism of its labour practices, including gruelling working conditions and lack of job security.
In July, just before Amazon's Prime Day, Sanders tweeted, "Jeff Bezo's newly renovated home in Washington DC will have 25 bathrooms". The median pay for an Amazon employee previous year was $28,446, according to government filings, which includes full-time, part-time and temporary workers.