Amazon made headlines yesterday when it announced plans to hire 7,000 workers in cities across the country. There is an Amazon distribution center here in the Phoenix metropolitan area and so the announcement even made the local news. But, what kind of positions are open as part of this mass hiring spree?
The bulk of the openings, approximately 5,000 jobs, will be positions at Amazon fulfillment centers in 17 cities in 10 states, including the local Phoenix warehouse. In the job announcement, Dave Clark, vice president of worldwide operations and customer service at Amazon said:
“We’re hiring more than 5,000 people to join our team and help us continue to innovate and serve our customers. We’re focused on sustained innovation across Amazon and want to help our employees succeed—whether at Amazon or elsewhere—so we offer programs like Career Choice, where we’ll pay for up to 95% of eligible employees’ tuition regardless of whether the skills they learn are relevant to a career at Amazon.”
In addition to the great benefits available to new employees, Amazon also makes a point to say that these jobs pay 30 percent more than traditional retail jobs. That sounds great, right? Unfortunately, these aren’t traditional retail jobs – these are traditional warehouse jobs. “The more than 5,000 jobs now available across the fulfillment network include picking, packing and shipping customer orders while engaging with high-end, state of the art technology.”
When I think retail, I think of a retail store employee stocking shelves or helping me out at the register. When I think of a warehouse job, I think of someone in a warehouse (or a fulfillment center) pulling products. So, in my opinion, it isn’t fair to compare these jobs to retail jobs.
I’m not the only one questioning this comparison, either. I came across this in a CNNMoney.com article, “Elizabeth Brennan, a spokeswoman for Warehouse Workers United, a workers advocacy group, said pitting warehouse worker salaries against regular retail jobs is comparing apples against oranges.”
The story goes on to explain that on average, a warehouse worker earns a third more than a retail employee. So, that 30 percent boost over retail employees would put Amazon’s pay below the national average.
But, the benefits – what about the benefits? The benefits at Amazon are great. In addition to a prepaid tuition program, healthcare plan and 401k, Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako explained that employees also receive "stock awards on top of their salaries. In the past five years, this has added an average of 9% to workers' base pay annually.” The total compensation package could easily push Amazon.com warehouse positions above the industry average.
In addition to the 5,000 warehouse positions, Amazon is hiring another 2,000 workers for customer service positions at one of four centers:
- Winchester, Kentucky
- Grand Forks, North Dakota
- Kennewick, Washington
- Huntington, West Virginia