Is Amazon’s new recruitment push to hire 100,000 workers a helping hand for the unemployed or a boast about its gangbusters business as other retailers buckle under the coronavirus? Or both?
Either way, Amazon’s latest effort, revealed Monday, dwarfs its previous campaign to enlist 3,500 tech and office workers in August, upped to 33,000 workers in September across Denver, New York, Phoenix and Seattle.
This latest hiring spree has less of a corporate bent. The new roles are for full- and part-time “operations network” jobs in the U.S. and Canada, primarily at the company’s 100 new package sorting centers opening this month. The new locations add to the 75 that already opened this year.
“We are opening 100 buildings this month alone across new fulfillment and sortation centers, delivery stations and other sites,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a statement. “We are proud to be hiring 100,000 new associates with pay of $15 per hour or more across those buildings and in our network.”
Clark also emphasized the company’s “unwavering commitment to safety” — a major issue as COVID-19 fears continue to upend the country, and have triggered protests at Amazon facilities.
Employees new to the company have completed more than 1.2 million hours of safety training, Clark added, with more than 500,000 additional hours expected.
At $15 per hour, the fulfillment and logistics jobs pay more than double the federal minimum wage to start and offer immediate benefits, as well as sign-on bonuses of up to $1,000 in select cities. Other perks include access to the company’s Career Choice training program, which helps participants create a career path at Amazon or other companies.
Amazon said it has created more than 600,000 jobs in the U.S. since 2010, and invested more than $350 billion across more than 40 states, in addition to donating to nonprofit groups and supporting computer science education.
But that’s not what the retail sector is focusing on. The e-tail giant is clearly expecting massive numbers, not just for the holiday season, but for Prime Day, its postponed marquee shopping event expected in October.
The timing, a month before Black Friday, comes with the threat of cannibalizing early holiday campaigns. The severity of that impact is up in the air, though, as the broader retail sector has changed its strategy, too.
Stores like Walmart Inc., Target Corp., Best Buy Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. have all shifted, choosing to close their doors to early business on Thanksgiving day. Some retailers have also opted to forego initial doorbuster promotions to focus on longer, more sustained business throughout the season.
Holiday season 2020 is shaping up to look like no other, as stores balance the grave need to boost sales with social distancing rules, which discourage throngs of live in-store shoppers. That puts most of the emphasis on e-commerce, which has been Amazon’s dominion. And it’s obviously preparing to expand its sprawling empire.