Amazon is taking on an additional 75,000 workers in the U.S. as part of measures to deal with growing customer demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
The online shopping giant has seen a surge in orders in recent weeks after multiple states were placed in lockdown to help slow the spread of the virus, formally known as COVID-19.
In mid-March, as the virus began to take hold in several U.S. cities, Amazon announced it would be taking on 100,000 full- and part-time workers at its distribution warehouses. Having now filled those positions, the company says it still needs an additional 75,000 workers to keep its massive shipping operation running smoothly.
With many people cutting down on shopping trips, and others in self-isolation with coronavirus symptoms, online shopping services are now playing a central role in efforts to get vital supplies to residents.
In a blog post announcing the new positions, Amazon said it particularly open to applications from those who have been laid off or furloughed due to the lockdowns.
“We know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis, and we welcome anyone out of work to join us at Amazon until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.”
The Seattle-based e-commerce company said last month it would offer an extra $2 per hour to the new hires, a move it estimated would cost it $350 million. The new hiring spree sees that figure rise to $500 million.
The COVID-19 crisis has seen the Amazon come under even more scrutiny than usual regarding working conditions at its busy distribution centers. Many workers have been complaining about inadequate measures to protect them from contracting the virus — indeed, some have already caught it — though Amazon insists it’s making improvements all the time to protect its workforce.
As the influx of additional workers enable it to better handle the extra demand placed on its service, Amazon is reportedly preparing to ease restrictions on the shipment of non-essential items. The restrictions were imposed in mid-March to ease pressure on its shipping operation, allowing it to focus on delivering more important items such as groceries, baby products, and household essentials.
But Amazon still isn’t on top of the situation, with the increase in demand this week forcing it to create a waitlist for new customers who want to sign up for its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service. As the company streamlines its service with the help of its next intake of workers, Amazon said it will gradually send out invitations to new customers.
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