Hun­dreds show up for jobs at U.S. Ama­zon ware­houses

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY MATT O’BRIEN

Hun­dreds of peo­ple showed up Wed­nes­day for a chance to pack and ship prod­ucts to Ama­zon cus­tomers, as the ecom­merce com­pany held a gi­ant job fair at nearly a dozen U.S. ware­houses.

Though it’s com­mon for Ama­zon to ramp up its ship­ping cen­tre 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 to $13 to $13.50 an hour.

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