Amazon needs more warehouse workers

May 28, 2015 06:00 AM Inc. plans a fulfillment hiring binge that could increase its warehouse workforce by up to 10%, according to one estimate. The e-retailer, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, and which posted a 24% year-over-year North American sales gain in the first quarter, credits “growing customer demand” for the 6,000 anticipated new full-time jobs it plans to fill at 19 distribution centers around the United States.

“We’re proud to be creating more than 6,000 full-time positions where employees will interact with state-of-the-art technology as part of their day-to-day roles,” says Mike Roth, Amazon’s vice president of North America operations, in a statement. “Amazon not only offers great pay and benefits, we also encourage our employees to continue to grow in their careers.” (See below for a list of the warehouses for which Amazon is hiring.)

Amazon says it operates more “than 50 fulfillment centers” in the United States. Supply chain consultancy MWPVL International Inc. counts 68 Amazon fulfillment centers in the United States along with at least 16 sortation centers. The latter enable Amazon packages to be arranged by ZIP code before heading to nearby post offices for the final delivery leg, promoting speedier delivery at a lower cost than using carriers like UPS and FedEx. The former “include a wide range of buildings that include redistribution facilities, returns centers, fulfillment centers and specialty centers,” says MWPVL president and founder Marc Wulfraat.

His company estimates that Amazon employs 60,400 workers in its U.S. warehouses, which he says “is likely on the low side. The part-time temps that they hire in the peak season can potentially double this labor force for a one- to two-month period.” Amazon last year said it would hire 80,000 seasonal workers for the 2014 holiday season, up from 70,000 in 2013.

Wulfraat adds: “This announcement implies a 10% increase on the labor force. However, what is unknown is how many of the 6,000 are associated with (fulfillment centers) that they were already hiring for and so they bundled all of this into one press release to make it look good.  For example Kenosha (Wis.) is in the list of places that they are hiring for, but that is a new [fulfillment center] and they already made that announcement a while ago and we already have this figured in our data.”

An Amazon spokesman says all 6,000 jobs are "new positions."

Its hiring plan comes as the e-retailer deploys more automation in its warehouses. Late last year CEO Jeff Bezos said Amazon had deployed at least 15,000 robots in 10 U.S. fulfillment centers. The e-retailer also continues to expand its same-day delivery services, including for groceries, and, more generally, the attractiveness of its Prime two-day-shipping-and-loyalty program. As well, Amazon faces competition on e-commerce deliveries from such rivals as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which later this summer plans to test what amounts to a cheaper version of Prime.

Warehouse hiring will take place at the following locations, though Amazon did not break down how many jobs were going where:

• Baltimore, Md.
• Breinigsville, Pa.
• Carlisle, Pa.
• Chattanooga, Tenn.
• Chester, Va.
• Haslet, Texas
• Hazleton, Pa.
• Hebron, Ky.
• Jeffersonville, Ind.
• Kenosha, Wis.
• Lexington, Ky.
• Middletown, Del.
• Murfreesboro, Tenn.
• Petersburg, Va.
• Plainfield, Ind.
• Robbinsville, N.J.
• West Columbia, S.C.
• Whitestown, Ind.
• Windsor, Conn. 




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