Amazon hired 100,000 people in less than a month to bolster its novel coronavirus response and said Monday it is planning to add 75,000 more jobs in its warehouses, grocery stores and delivery network.
The Seattle company’s hiring binge — which would add more people to its staff in a handful of months than it did in all of 2019 — comes as companies across the economy are laying off millions of workers amid closures of nonessential businesses and stay-at-home directives meant to slow the spread of the pandemic.
“We know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis and we welcome anyone out of work to join us at Amazon until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,” Amazon said in a corporate blog post Monday.
The company’s spending on increased pay is also climbing, from the $350 million it estimated on March 16 to more than $500 million. The company raised its wages by $2 an hour and increased overtime pay as it struggled to accommodate an offseason boom in demand and implement safety protocols. It also offered hourly workers unlimited unpaid time off — though many are clamoring for paid sick leave — through the end of April, and absenteeism rates have been high.
Dozens of Amazon workers have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The company has also faced an unprecedented wave of employee activism, with a handful of walkouts and petitions signed by thousands of workers seeking improved safety practices and benefits. The company has made more than 100 policy changes.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus — while devastating for other businesses, including many retailers — has driven huge demand for online shopping and delivery. Amazon continues to see increased demand, it said Monday.
Over the weekend, Amazon announced a series of efforts to increase capacity, particularly in grocery, even as a range of new safety protocols, system breakdowns and surging demand have limited deliveries for weeks.
“While we have increased order capacity by more than 60 percent due to COVID-19, we still expect the combination of restricted capacity due to social distancing and customer demand will continue to make finding available delivery windows challenging for customers,” Stephenie Landry, vice president of grocery delivery, said in a company blog post on Sunday.
The company implemented a waiting list for new customers who want grocery delivery and pickup services from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market. Landry described a forthcoming feature that will allow customers to sign up for a time to shop, securing them “a virtual ‘place in line.’”
“Ramping hiring enables us to more quickly receive, restock, and deliver products to customers and continue increasing delivery window availability,” Landry said.
The addition of 175,000 new full- and part-time employees is similar in magnitude to the number of people Amazon typically brings on ahead of the holiday shopping peak. Those workers are usually let go in the early part of the year as Amazon’s sales business volume ramps down. It’s also more than the 150,500 new employees — many in warehouses and delivery networks as the company rolled out faster delivery — Amazon added during 2019.
The company ended the year with a global workforce of more than 798,000 people, and had more than 37,000 job listings on its site in February. On Monday, it had more than 39,000 openings listed, and a separate site just for the hiring push.
Applicants are told they can start in as soon as seven days, with no resume or previous work experience required — and in many cases no interview.
There are tens of thousands of other people who work for Amazon, even if they’re not direct employees. The company relies on independent delivery contractors — both individuals and small delivery companies — and hundreds of thousands of third-party merchants who sell goods on Amazon.com.
In mid-March, Amazon limited shipments of new inventory to its warehouses from some of those sellers as it prioritized high-demand items such as medical supplies and household staples. On Monday, the company confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that it would again begin accepting new non-essential inventory from third-party sellers, albeit in limited quantities, later this week. The additional workers have enabled Amazon to again accept a broader range of inventory, the Journal reported.