During Pandemic, Amazon Is Hiring. And Hiring

Pace is unprecedented, putting the company on track to become world's biggest employer
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2020 12:55 PM CST
During Pandemic, Amazon Is Hiring. And Hiring
Packages move along a conveyor at an Amazon warehouse in Goodyear, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Walmart once hired 230,000 people in one year. Amazon is making that look like nothing. Through October, the online retailer has added 427,300 employees this year, the New York Times reports. "It's hiring like mad," a labor historian at the University of California-Santa Barbara said. "No American company has hired so many workers so quickly." Experts liken the binge to shipbuilding hiring at the start of World War II and the construction boom when the war ended. Amazon now has 1.2 million employees globally, 50% more than it had a year ago. At this pace—1,400 hires per day—the company will pass Walmart to become the largest private employer on Earth within two years. Amazon has added software engineers and hardware specialists, though most new jobs have gone to warehouse workers. A New Jersey warehouse opening next month needs 2,500 full-time workers, starting at $15.75 an hour, per My Central Jersey.

Business has taken off for Amazon during the pandemic; the company sold 57% more goods from April through June than it did in the same period in 2019. Walmart and Target are selling more, too. "It is happening in the context of an unprecedented loss of jobs elsewhere in the economy," an academic tells the Times. Not only has the pandemic kept consumers at home—the federal pandemic relief spending led to local retailers temporarily closing. Demand then jumped for Amazon. The company says it's plugged gaps as unemployment has risen in other sectors, such as restaurants. "Offering jobs with industry-leading pay and great health care, including to entry-level and front-line employees, is even more meaningful in a time like this," says CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon announced Thursday it will pay out $500 million in employee bonuses next month: $300 for full-time workers and $150 for part-timers. (More Amazon stories.)

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