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Amazon plans to hire 75,000 more workers in response to coronavirus

The company just completed an earlier hiring blitz of 100,000.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
3 min read
Amazon Fulfillment Center

Prepping packages at an Amazon warehouse in Thornton, Colorado.

Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Amazon on Monday said it will hire 75,000 more workers to help it fill a massive surge in orders during the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement comes just after the company completed a hiring blitz of 100,000 additional employees that it announced less than a month ago.

"We continue to see increased demand as our teams support their communities, and are going to continue to hire, creating an additional 75,000 jobs to help serve customers during this unprecedented time," the company said on its blog Monday morning.

The online retailer also said it now expects to spend significantly more on higher wages during the coronavirus crisis. Last month, it said it would spend $350 million and updated that number Monday to $500 million.

Amazon is one of several major retailers that have been ramping up hiring during the coronavirus outbreak to respond to a spike in consumers' orders, with Walmart, Kroger and Instacart all announcing big hiring pushes during the crisis. This increase in demand is driven both by millions of people stocking up on goods during an emergency and these customers being told to stay home to avoid spreading the virus, sparking more online orders.

These tens of thousands of new positions, though, don't come close to balancing out the millions of people who are now unemployed, as gyms, restaurants, malls, movie theaters and many other places have had to close during the pandemic. In a nod to this difficult situation, Amazon has repeatedly encouraged people in hard-hit industries to apply for jobs in its warehouses so they can find work.

As the world's largest e-commerce company, Amazon has been in an especially strong position to capture many of these new orders, but this wave of demand hasn't come without problems. For customers, many popular items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer have gone out of stock or have been targets of price gouging -- two problems Amazon has said it's working to fix. Also, shipments for Amazon and many other companies have been delayed.

On the worker side, vocal groups of Amazon's employees have spoken out for weeks about unsafe and unsanitary working conditions and warned about the virus spreading in Amazon warehouses and into communities. There are now dozens of Amazon warehouses across the US with confirmed coronavirus cases, though Amazon has often defended its efforts to keep its facilities clean and provide protective equipment to its workers. Walmart, major grocers and meat producers have also struggled to contain the virus' spread within their workforces. 

This latest hiring increase is significant even for Amazon, a company known for hiring in huge numbers for years, especially during the holidays. The company employed 798,000 at the end of last year, up 23% from a year earlier. 

Without factoring in any reduction in seasonal workers after the holidays or new hiring since then, the 175,000 additional employees would amount to an 18% increase in workforce during a typically slow time in retail, putting Amazon's staff at just under 1 million people: 973,000.

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday celebrated Amazon's new hiring, tweeting: "Thank you, @Amazon for working every day to meet the needs of the American people as we face this pandemic together."

His show of support is especially notable because President Donald Trump has often criticized both Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, over its tax payments and alleged exploitation of the US postal system to deliver its packages, something the US Postal Service denied. Last month, Amazon confirmed Bezos was in contact with the White House regarding the pandemic.

Amazon on Sunday said its new online grocery customers will be put on a wait list as it works to meet "unprecedented" demand for delivery and pickup. That work follows its effort to cut back on shipments into its warehouses for nonessential goods and slow down deliveries of those items, like toys and musical instruments, as it tries to respond to the surge in demand for basic goods and food.

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