Hundreds of potential workers lined up across the nation for jobs on Wednesday as Amazon, the shopping and delivery giant shaking up the ways Americans purchase their goods and services, hosted a massive jobs fair at a number of its U.S. warehouses. The company hired thousands of workers on the spot to pack and sort boxes before shipping them off to customers around the U.S.
Amazon had previously promised to hire 100,000 workers over an 18-month period, with nearly 40,000 of the 50,000 jobs offered at the fair being full-time. The hiring frenzy comes amidst a continued period of economic prosperity in the U.S., with the DOW hitting 22,000 for the first time Wednesday as well.
Amazon opened 10 shipping sites across the country up to job seekers to facilitate the hiring process, instructing applicants to show up between 8 a.m. and noon at local times. The company hosted the job fair at its warehouses in 10 states, ranging from Washington to Ohio, to New York.
The company said that the jobs offered on the spot to applicants will offer health and disability insurance, as well as retirement savings plans and access to company stock. The jobs offered on Wednesday will pay different rates depending on the location of the warehouse, ranging from $11.50 to $13.75 an hour.
“Amazon Jobs Day,” as the company is calling it, included tours that brought prospective employees around the warehouses they would be working in, interviews, and introductions to some of the coworkers and robots they’d be working with.
While Amazon traditionally expands its workforce before the start of the holiday season, the job fair underscores the company’s expansion into the American retail sector, which has seen brick-and-mortar stores shut down as they found themselves unable to compete with the e-commerce giant.
While the news of additional hires is likely to be warmly greeted in the media, Amazon has struggled with its warehouse employees in the past. The Seattle Times previously reported on the working conditions of one of Amazon’s warehouses, highlighting a lawsuit which alleged the company’s reported workplace-injury figures weren’t accurate.
“There would be phone conferences [with Seattle], and all this screaming, about production numbers. That was always the problem; the production numbers weren’t high enough,” an anonymous safety manager with oversight of a warehouse told the Times. “This was just a brutal place to work.”
In a statement made to the Seattle Times after the story, Amazon disputed the reports that its working conditions were harsh, pointing to figures which showed it performing above many industry-averages.
“From January 1, 2006, to September 30, 2011, our U.S. fulfillment network had an annual average recordable incidence rate ranging from 2.5 to 4.2. These rates are lower than for auto manufacturing, the warehousing industry, and even for department stores,” part of the statement read.
“To put it simply, it’s safer to work in an Amazon fulfillment center than in a department store,” the statement went on to say.
[Featured Image by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]