FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Hundreds of people showed up Wednesday for a chance to pack and ship products to Amazon customers, as the e-commerce company held a giant job fair at nearly a dozen U.S. warehouses.
Though it’s common for Amazon to ramp up its shipping center staff in August to prepare for holiday shopping, the magnitude of the hiring spree underscores Amazon’s growth when traditional retailers are closing stores — and blaming Amazon for a shift to buying goods online.
Amazon planned to hire thousands of people on the spot. Nearly 40,000 of the 50,000 packing, sorting and shipping jobs at Amazon will be full time. Most of them will count toward Amazon’s previously announced goal of adding 100,000 full-time workers by the middle of next year.
The bad news is that more people are likely to lose jobs in stores than get jobs in warehouses, said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
On the flip side, Amazon’s warehouse jobs provide “decent and competitive” wages and could help build skills.
“Interpersonal team work, problem solving, critical thinking, all that stuff goes on in these warehouses,” Carnevale said. “They’re serious entry-level jobs for a lot of young people, even those who are still making their way through school.”
The company is advertising starting wages that range from $11.50 an hour in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to $13.75 an hour in Kent, Washington, near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. The $11.50 rate amounts to about $23,920 a year. In Washington state, the current minimum wage is $11.50 but by 2020 this will increase to $13.50. By comparison, the warehouse store operator Costco raised its minimum wage for entry-level workers last year from $13 to $13.50 an hour.
Many of the job candidates Wednesday were looking to supplement other income.
Rodney Huffman, a 27-year-old personal trainer, said the $13-an-hour job in Baltimore would pay enough to help cover bills while he starts his own company.
“I’m looking to do the night shifts and then run my own company during the day,” he said.
At one warehouse — Amazon calls them “fulfillment centers” — in Fall River, Massachusetts, the company hired 30 people on the spot in the first two hours. Amazon was looking to hire more than 200 people Wednesday, adding to a workforce of about 1,500. Employees there focus on sorting, labeling and shipping what the company calls “non-sortable” items — big products such as shovels, kayaks, surfboards,…