Jeff Bezos recently made headlines for becoming the world's richest man. And after the launch of Amazon Go this week, Bezos tacked on another $2.8 billion to his net worth. But there's another story that's not getting as much attention.
Ten percent of Amazon's Ohio workforce is on food stamps, according to a snapshot study done by a nonprofit liberal-leaning policy research group called Policy Matters Ohio. And it was released just days before Bezos' net worth broke the world record at $105 billion.
The report looked at data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. It found that roughly 700 employees, more than 1 in 10, at Amazon's Ohio warehouses received SNAP benefits in August.
SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helps qualifying families purchase groceries through what's commonly known as "food stamps."
And it turns out, these Amazon employees relying on food assistance cannot use food stamps at the company's new cashier-free store, Amazon Go, the company has confirmed to CNBC.
That's raised further questions about Amazon's demographic priorities. Back in December, Piper Jaffray found that more than 80 percent of the richest U.S. households use Prime, Amazon's paid membership program. Though the company did seem to be making an effort to court a lower-income customer base. It recently launched a monthly payment plan feature, and discounts for people on government assistance.
Here's what Amazon told CNBC in a statement:
"Amazon full-time hourly employees in Ohio earn between $14.50 and $15 an hour as a starting wage with regular pay increases, plus Amazon stock and performance based bonuses. We also provide comprehensive benefits which include health, vision, and dental insurance coverage starting on day one, generous maternity and family leave, tuition for career education, and a network of support to succeed."
In Ohio, Amazon ranked 19th among all the state's employers with workers needing food assistance. And according to Policy Matters Ohio, the company wasn't even in the top 50 just months before.
"Why is it that we have a significant number of employees and family members of a company that is so wealthy, that have to avail themselves of using food benefits?" said Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters Ohio.
Many of those employees, both full time and part time, are likely from Amazon's warehouses near Columbus. Though the company also operates data centers, wind farms and Whole Foods stores in the state.