(CNN Money) — Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all US employees.

The change takes effect November 1 and applies to full-time, part-time and temporary workers. Amazon says the $15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, plus 100,000 seasonal workers.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

Amazon also said its public policy team will begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2009.

The minimum wage in Maryland is currently $10.10 an hour.

“We’re really excited to raise our national minimum wage to $15 for all employees. Full time, part time, season associates,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Operations.

“I definitely think it’s an appropriate raise,” said Dana Masucci, of Baltimore.

“They deserve it. I mean, I think they deserve more than $15,” said Titus McNair, a truck driver.

McNair works closely with Amazon employees at the fulfillment center in Baltimore.

“I wish I can get a raise, haha, I need one too,” McNair said.

Anirban Basu, an economist, said what this raise does for Maryland’s thousands of Amazon workers is nothing to laugh about.

“This means that the average quality of jobs in Maryland just went up for a lot of people, and this gives people perhaps the ability to get their own apartment, this gives people the ability to have another vacation each year. This is big news,” said Basu, CEO of Sage Policy Group Inc.

Basu said right now unemployment is at an all-time low and demand for quality workers, at an all-time high, is forcing companies to compete.

The size and explosive growth of Amazon give the decision importance far beyond the hundreds of thousands of people who will benefit directly.

Amazon is among the largest employers in the United States, and it has added more American jobs in the past decade than any other company.

The decision also raises the stakes for Amazon’s so-called HQ2 competition — its plan to create a second headquarters, with as many as 50,000 jobs. The company has named 20 cities as finalists, including Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Critics, including independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have criticized Amazon for not paying workers enough. They have drawn a contrast with Bezos’ spectacular wealth: He is the richest person alive, worth an estimated $165 billion.

Workers across the country have pushed for a $15 minimum wage as they have drawn attention to growing income inequality. And some companies have responded to the public pressure.

Target announced in September that it would raise its minimum wage to $11 an hour and $15 by 2020. Disney reached a deal with its unions to pay a minimum of $15 an hour at Disneyland in California in 2019 and at Disney World in Florida by 2021.

And Walmart, the country’s largest private-sector employer, which has more than 1 million US workers, raised its minimum wage to $11 in February. Costco pays its employees $14 an hour.

Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs, pledged that the company would advocate a minimum wage increase “that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country.”

Last month, Amazon said that the average hourly wage for a full-time associate in its fulfillment centers was already more than $15 per hour.

The company hopes that more companies will follow suit.

“We’re hopeful that other companies and that the government will take action in increasing the minimum wage,” Clark said.

— CNNMoney’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

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