A job fair of Ama­zon pro­por­tions

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Matt O’Brien

FALL RIVER, MASS. » Hun­dreds of peo­ple showed up Wed­nes­day for a shot at em­ploy­ment at Ama­zon, as the e-com­merce com­pany held a gi­ant job fair at nearly a dozen U.S. ware­houses.

Although the wages of­fered will make it hard for some to make ends meet, many of the can­di­dates were ex­cited by the prospect of health in­sur­ance and other ben­e­fits, as well as ad­vance­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

It’s com­mon for Ama­zon to ramp up its ship­ping cen­ter staff in Au­gust to pre­pare for hol­i­day shop­ping.

But the mag­ni­tude of its cur­rent hir­ing spree un­der­scores Ama­zon’s growth when tra­di­tional re­tail­ers are clos­ing stores — and blam­ing Ama­zon for a shift to buy­ing goods on­line.

Ama­zon said it re­ceived “a record-break­ing 20,000 ap­pli­ca­tions” and hired thou­sands of peo­ple on the spot, and will hire more in the com­ing days.

The num­ber was less than the 50,000 it had an­nounced it was plan­ning to hire be­fore the event took place.

Most of them will count to­ward Ama­zon’s 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, Tenn., to $13.75 an hour in Kent, Wash., 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 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.

Some job can­di­dates Wed­nes­day were look­ing to sup­ple­ment other in­come.

Rodney Huff­man, a 27year-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.

Many of those who showed up Wed­nes­day were ex­cited by the prospects of health in­sur­ance and other ben­e­fits.

“I like to be busy, so I know Ama­zon is busy and they want hard work­ers,” re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer Brian Trice said.

Ama­zon was also hold­ing events at ship­ping sites in Ohio, Ken­tucky, Wis­con­sin, New Jer­sey, Illi­nois and In­di­ana.

Julio Cortez, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ama­zon job can­di­dates wait in line out­side a pro­cess­ing tent in Rob­binsville, N.J., dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s job fair.

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