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Amazon minimum wage hike barely made a dent in its operating costs

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Founder of space company Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, speaks about the future of commercial space travel during the 32nd Space Symposium on April 12, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images

  • Amazon announced in October 2018 that it was raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • But the rise for hundreds of thousands of workers has barely made a dent in its operating expenses, which grew at a similar or slower rate than the rest of the year.
  • One theory is that Amazon balanced out the increased salaries by slashing bonuses and ending its restricted stock unit program.
  • Some workers told Business Insider that they were actually worse off over the holiday period.

Amazon’s minimum wage hike has barely made a dent in the online retail giant’s operating expenses — and it might explain why some workers say they are out of pocket.

In November last year, Amazon increased its minimum wage to $15 in the US and between £9.50 ($12.40) and £10.50 ($13.70) in the UK, impacting 267,000 permanent workers and 200,000 seasonal employees.

A seasonal worker who joined Amazon in October told Business Insider that their salary jumped from $10 to $15, but it would have been different for different workers.

It would not be outlandish to expect such pay raises to be reflected in an increased cost of doing business, but for Amazon, it hardly made a difference to the growth in its operating expenses.

According to the company’s earnings for the three months to the end of December (so including two months of higher salaries for hundreds of thousands of employees), Amazon’s operating expenses grew at a similar or slower rate to the rest of the year.

Here’s a breakdown of Amazon’s operating costs across the year:

Q4: $68.6 billion (up 17.7% year-on-year)
Q3: $62.8 billion (up 17.6%)
Q2: $49.9 billion (up 33.7%)
Q1: $49.1 billion (up 41.5%)

Amazon’s operating expenses include a ton of other cost lines beyond staff salaries, including things like marketing and technology. These are of course prone to fluctuation, which could have played a part in expenses not rising at a particularly remarkable rate.

But there is another theory as to why the minimum wage increase has barely made a dent — it has been balanced out by Amazon slashing bonuses and ending its restricted stock unit program (RSU).

Read more: Here’s how minimum wage compares at Amazon, Walmart, Costco, and more retail giants as companies battle to win over workers

Amazon workers in the US and the UK told Business Insider that the minimum wage increase had actually had a negative impact on their pay packets over the holiday period. Meanwhile, Wired spoke to an Amazon employee last year who estimated they would lose at least $1,400 a year following the pay rise.

Trade unions also noted the removal of incentives and stock options. “If Jeff Bezos — the richest man in the world — really wants to give hardworking staff a pay rise, he should let them keep their share options as well as increasing their hourly rate,” said Tim Roache, the general secretary of the UK’s GMB union.

Business Insider has contacted Amazon for comment. In a statement last year, the firm said:

“The significant increase in hourly cash wages more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and RSUs. We can confirm that all hourly Operations and Customer Service employees will see an increase in their total compensation as a result of this announcement. In addition, because it’s no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable.”

Amazon announced its new minimum wage of $15 per hour following pressure from politicians like Bernie Sanders, who demanded that CEO Jeff Bezos pay Amazon staff a fair wage.

As a result of the change, Amazon said on Thursday that it received 850,000 applications for hourly work in October 2018 — more than double its previous record. Amazon did not say how many of those applications were successful.



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The most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech

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LGBTQ+ in tech 4x3Paul Sakuma/AP; Ben Margot/AP; Rachel Murray/Getty; Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty; Amy E. Price/Getty; Yutong Yuan/Business Insider

  • Tim Cook is arguably the most prominent LGBTQ+ person in tech, but he isn’t the only one.
  • There are LGBTQ+ identifying individuals in prominent roles as venture capitalists, diversity in tech advocates, and C-suite level executives at large tech companies like IBM and Microsoft.
  • Here are 23 of the most influential and notable people in tech who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

The atmosphere in Silicon Valley, where “bro culture” is rampant, is not know for being kind to anyone “different.”

That can especially be true for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals, who only gained the right to marry in the US in 2005. Gay marriage is still only legal in around 30 countries.

But a number of diversity initiatives aimed at LGBTQ+ people in the tech sector have emerged in recent years. Groups like Lesbians Who Tech, StartOut, and TransTech Social Enterprises have worked to improve office culture at tech companies, connect LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs with venture capitalists, and make resources more readily available to the queer tech community.

Business Insider has compiled a list of some of the most influential and notable people in tech who identify as LGBTQ+. Some techies on this list have harnessed their gender identities and sexual orientations to speak out about and further the presence of LGBTQ+ people in tech. For others, being LGBTQ+ is simply a part of their personal life, which they strive to keep separate from business.

Here are 23 of the most influential LGBTQ+ people in the tech industry:


Tim Cook is arguably the most prominent LGBTQ+…

The 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech

LGBTQ,Out Insider,Features,BI Graphics,Tim Cook,Arlan Hamilton,Megan Smith,Peter Thiel,Chris Hughes,Keith Rabois,David Blumberg,Martine Rothblatt,Joel Simkhai

The 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech

2019-02-17T13:00:00+01:00

2019-02-07T00:09:59+01:00

2019-02-15T23:04:31+01:00

https://static2.businessinsider.de/image/5c6737b5bde70f39f2798a10-500-250/the-23-most-powerful-lgbtq-people-in-tech.jpg

BusinessInsiderDe



Tim Cook is arguably the most prominent LGBTQ+ person in tech, but he isn’t the only one.
There are LGBTQ+ identifying individuals in prominent roles as venture capitalists, diversity in tech advocates, and C-suite level executives at large tech companies like IBM and Microsoft.
Here are 23 of the most influential and notable people in tech who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

The atmosphere in Silicon Valley, where “bro culture” is rampant, is not know for being kind to anyone “different.”
That can especially be true for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals, who only gained the right to marry in the US in 2005. Gay marriage is still only legal in around 30 countries.
But a number of diversity initiatives aimed at LGBTQ+ people in the tech sector have emerged in recent years. Groups like Lesbians Who Tech, StartOut, and TransTech Social Enterprises have worked to improve office culture at tech companies, connect LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs with venture capitalists, and make resources more readily available to the queer tech community.
Business Insider has compiled a list of some of the most influential and notable people in tech who identify as LGBTQ+. Some techies on this list have harnessed their gender identities and sexual orientations to speak out about and further the presence of LGBTQ+ people in tech. For others, being LGBTQ+ is simply a part of their personal life, which they strive to keep separate from business.
Here are 23 of the most influential LGBTQ+ people in the tech industry:

international

Tim Cook is arguably the most prominent LGBTQ+…

The 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech

LGBTQ,Out Insider,Features,BI Graphics,Tim Cook,Arlan Hamilton,Megan Smith,Peter Thiel,Chris Hughes,Keith Rabois,David Blumberg,Martine Rothblatt,Joel Simkhai

The 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech

2019-02-17T13:00:00+01:00

2019-02-15T23:04:31+01:00

https://static2.businessinsider.de/image/5c6737b5bde70f39f2798a10-500-250/the-23-most-powerful-lgbtq-people-in-tech.jpg

BusinessInsiderDe



Tim Cook is arguably the most prominent LGBTQ+ person in tech, but he isn’t the only one.
There are LGBTQ+ identifying individuals in prominent roles as venture capitalists, diversity in tech advocates, and C-suite level executives at large tech companies like IBM and Microsoft.
Here are 23 of the most influential and notable people in tech who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

The atmosphere in Silicon Valley, where “bro culture” is rampant, is not know for being kind to anyone “different.”
That can especially be true for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals, who only gained the right to marry in the US in 2005. Gay marriage is still only legal in around 30 countries.
But a number of diversity initiatives aimed at LGBTQ+ people in the tech sector have emerged in recent years. Groups like Lesbians Who Tech, StartOut, and TransTech Social Enterprises have worked to improve office culture at tech companies, connect LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs with venture capitalists, and make resources more readily available to the queer tech community.
Business Insider has compiled a list of some of the most influential and notable people in tech who identify as LGBTQ+. Some techies on this list have harnessed their gender identities and sexual orientations to speak out about and further the presence of LGBTQ+ people in tech. For others, being LGBTQ+ is simply a part of their personal life, which they strive to keep separate from business.
Here are 23 of the most influential LGBTQ+ people in the tech industry:

international



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Machines vs. cashiers: Why shoppers are so divided over self-checkout

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More than a million people clicked on a CBC News story last week about some retail stores removing their self-checkout machines. Thousands of readers also left comments, many staunchly taking a stand either for or against self-checkout.

The machines are now ubiquitous in many large retail stores, yet self-checkout remains a divisive issue among Canadians.

So what’s driving the debate? Turns out, age can be a factor as well as one’s view on whether the technology represents progress or a step backward as shoppers — aided by machines — do the work of cashiers.

“A lot of people do see self-checkout as a threat to workers,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Halifax-based Dalhousie University specializing in food distribution and policy.

“That’s probably why the debate is so emotional for a lot of people.”

These tweets in reaction to a CBC News story on self-checkout show how divided readers are.

The age factor

Self-checkouts are supposed to cut costs for retailers and provide choice for consumers. A recent U.S. survey suggests age can influence who’s drawn to them. 

Forty-six per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 said, when given a choice, they prefer using self-checkout over a cashier.

That preference declines with age: 35 per cent of respondents aged 35 to 54 said they favour self-checkout, and only 19 per cent of those 55 and older would choose the machine over a cashier. 

CivicScience, a U.S. data collection and market research company, surveyed 1,969 adults online in July 2018.

“Obviously, they haven’t created [technology] that boomers want to adopt, so maybe that’s a user-experience issue,” said Casey Taylor, of CivicScience.

Although the machines have improved over the years, they’ve frustrated many shoppers, especially when they involved extra steps like weighing produce or applying a discount.

Consumer behaviour expert Brynn Winegard says that tech-savvy millennials may be more willing to accept such challenges.  

“They’re not daunted,” she said. “Troubleshooting a self-checkout terminal is not an issue for them. It doesn’t ruin their day.”

A recent study suggests that age might be a factor when it comes to choosing self-checkout over a cashier. (CBC)

David Ruta, 65, of Napanee, Ont., was turned off self-checkout about four years ago when, after scanning the only item he had, the machine insisted he scan a second item.

I didn’t have one,” he said. “Then it stopped working for the [employee] who tried to help me, and that’s when I left the store.”

In contrast, 34-year-old Matthew Easter, of Ottawa, says he’s found self-checkout machines quite seamless and believes they speed up the process.

“Why would I wait 10 minutes, maybe more, when I can check myself out in 30 seconds?” said Easter, who will only shop at grocery stores that offer the machines.

“It’s a more convenient option, especially if you’re a busy person.”

Matthew Easter of Ottawa will go out of his way to shop at a grocery store that offers self-checkout. (Submitted by Matthew Easter)

What about the jobs?

Many people believe self-checkouts are part of an inevitable shift to automation.

“There’s always going to be progress. There’s always going to be technology that’s going to come along to make things better, smarter, faster,” said Easter.

But those who prefer to use cashiers often fear the machines will lead to fewer of them and longer lineups — and they don’t see that as progress.  

Although he’s a senior, Ruta says he’s not intimidated by self-checkout technology but instead is concerned about its effect on retail workers. 

“I just would rather interact with a person,” he said. “You put in these self checkouts, you’re going to eliminate jobs.”

Nadine MacKinnon, 59, of Toronto, agrees.

“They shouldn’t be able to take away jobs from workers, force the customer to do that work for them for free.”

Nadine MacKinnon of Toronto says she avoids self-checkout machines when shopping. (Submitted by Nadine MacKinnon)

Although it has added more self-checkouts to many stores, Walmart Canada told CBC News the move hasn’t resulted in any job losses. Instead, some employees were re-deployed to other positions such as customer support for self-checkout.

But that may not always be the outcome. U.K.-based research and consulting group RBR said the number of self-checkout kiosks shipped to Canada tripled in 2017 compared to 2016, though it declined to provide exact figures. RBR attributed much of the growth to “labour pressures” created by recent minimum wage increases in some provinces.

Over the past couple of years, grocery chain Metro and retail giant Loblaw both announced they would increase their self-checkouts in select stores to help offset the higher cost of wages.   

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018Future of Jobs report, many jobs that can be replaced with automation, including cashier positions, are “expected to become increasingly redundant” over the next four years.

However, the study suggests that the job losses could be more than offset by the emergence of many new positions. But the questions remains what type of jobs will emerge and what happens to less-skilled workers. 

Walmart Canada says some cashiers have been re-deployed to other positions such as customer support for self checkout. (CBC)

Self-checkout fan Kyle Ross, 19, of Summerside, P.E.I., points out that even self-checkout kiosks generate jobs.

“You have the people that are creating the self-checkouts, the people that come and repair the machines when they need updates.”

That doesn’t placate shoppers like Ruta and MacKinnon, who still worry about displaced workers and how automation will change the shopping experience.

“I prefer to be served by a human being,” said MacKinnon.



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La Bretagne, berceau de la culture mégalithique

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Les mégalithes sont parmi les structures préhistoriques les plus facilement reconnaissables. Ces agencements peuvent prendre plusieurs formes, allant d’une série de pierres verticales placées en demi-cercle jusqu’à des agencements complexes servant de tombeaux à d’anciens guerriers de tribus aujourd’hui oubliées.

Ces constructions ont été érigées à travers l’Europe, de la période néolithique jusqu’à l’âge du bronze, et environ 35 000 d’entre elles y sont encore observables. Malgré cette importante présence et les centaines d’études les concernant, les mégalithes ont toujours conservé une part de mystère, leur origine restant cachée derrière les brumes des mythes européens.

Or, une scientifique de l’Université de Göteborg, en Suède, pourrait lever une partie de ce mystère.

Ses travaux (Nouvelle fenêtre) montrent que ces structures de pierres pourraient remonter à une culture originaire de Bretagne. De là, cette technique se serait ensuite répandue à travers l’Europe, en passant par la mer, lors de trois vagues distinctes.

On voit le monument de pierres dressées de Stonehenge, sous un ciel nuageux. Image captée au site de Stonehenge lors de l’éclipse solaire du 11 août 1999. Photo : Reuters

Une origine entre science et légendes

Jusqu’à maintenant, deux grandes hypothèses expliquaient l’origine des mégalithes.

La première, élaborée entre le 17e et le 18e siècle, avançait que ces pierres étaient l’œuvre d’un peuple ancien, dont les origines pourraient remonter à la Méditerranée ou au Proche-Orient et qui aurait propagé sa culture en Europe par voie maritime.

Cette hypothèse fut abandonnée dans les années 70 avec l’apparition des premières techniques de datation au carbone 14. Les données obtenues lors de fouilles autour de ces sites semblaient indiquer que les mégalithes seraient apparus au cours de la même période à travers le continent, créés indépendamment par diverses cultures européennes.

Pendant 10 ans, la professeure Bettina Schulz Paulsson, une archéologue spécialiste de la préhistoire, a alors passé au peigne fin la littérature scientifique concernant les mégalithes. Ces travaux lui ont permis de recenser 2410 datations au radiocarbone, en plus d’informations sur l’architecture des sites, les coutumes funéraires appliquées et les types d’outils qui y ont été employés. Elle a ainsi pu obtenir une ligne du temps de l’évolution des mégalithes à travers les âges.

Trois vagues, en partance de Bretagne

Selon ses données, les mégalithes les plus anciens se situent au nord-ouest de la France et auraient été assemblés il y a 6500 ans.

Ces premiers exemples étaient formés de quelques pierres agencées au-dessus d’un monticule de terre. D’autres structures étaient toutefois plus complexes comme des alignements de menhirs retrouvés dans la région de Carnac, en Bretagne, aussi produits autour de la même période.

Les datations suggèrent que les plaines de Bretagne seraient le point de départ de ce type de monument. Par la suite, ce style distinctif se serait répandu en France en suivant la côte atlantique, puis autour de la péninsule ibérique jusque dans la Méditerranée, au cours d’une période de deux à trois siècles.

Un millénaire après cette « première vague », on assiste à l’apparition d’un second style : des tombeaux formés d’une ou plusieurs chambres funéraires reliées entre elles par des passages en pierre. Ces derniers ont été retrouvés dans plusieurs régions de France, d’Angleterre, d’Espagne et à travers les pays scandinaves, toujours dans des régions facilement accessibles par voies maritimes.

Enfin, il y a entre 5000 et 4000 ans, la troisième et dernière vague de constructions s’amorce; c’est la période au cours de laquelle sont érigées, entre autres, les célèbres pierres de Stonehenge.

La propagation de ce type de constructions, en plus de leur quasi-inexistence en dehors des régions côtières, laisse croire, selon la scientifique, que cette culture s’est répandue par voie maritime. Cela impliquerait toutefois que l’émergence de techniques de navigation nécessaires à une telle diffusion de connaissances serait survenue au moins deux millénaires plus tôt que ce qui était précédemment accepté.

Même si la communauté archéologique a particulièrement bien accueilli cette étude, certains doutes persistent, et il est toujours possible que d’autres sites aient été construits indépendamment des trois vagues identifiées.



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