Wokers social distanced and wore masks at an Amazon fulfillment center in California last week. PHOTO: TERRY PIERSON/ZUMA PRESS


Amazon to Keep Most of the Jobs It Added During Pandemic

par Featured articles licensed from The Wall Street Journal | le 28 May 2020




E-commerce giant says 125,000 temporary positions will be converted to permanent

By Sebastian Herrera – The Wall Street Journal


Amazon plans to keep most of the U.S. jobs it added to meet demand in March and April as housebound Americans turned to online deliveries.

Amazon said Thursday it will give 125,000 of those 175,000 temporary workers the option to stay on full time, signaling that it expects the recent growth to continue. The company said the jobs will supplement its total U.S. count, which it recently put at more than 500,000. Amazon’s nonseasonal employee ranks include full-time and part-time positions.

As companies across industries have shed millions of jobs during the pandemic, Amazon, Walmart Inc. and others that provide essential goods have been among the few adding workers. Most, however, were temporary hires.

U.S. unemployment surged to a record 14.7% last month, and payrolls dropped by a historic 20.5 million workers, wiping out a decade of job gains in a single month.


“As the long-term picture becomes more clear, we’re providing the opportunity for 125,000 of those who came on with us seasonally to stay with Amazon and transition into a regular, full-time role beginning in June,” the company said.

Amazon began its hiring spree in March after customers sheltering in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus flooded it with orders for toilet paper, food, household products and other necessities.

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, has added more than 235,000 workers since mid-March, most in temporary positions, Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said earlier this month.

A company spokeswoman said Walmart has converted some new hires to permanent roles at the company and expected to do so with “many more” in the future, although she didn’t specify how many.

“We’re glad we’ve been able to offer bridge employment to so many displaced workers,” the spokeswoman said. “We’re seeing many return to their respective industries as parts of the country reopen and expect that to continue.”

The 125,000 jobs are more than Amazon would typically add during those months, a spokeswoman said, without providing details. She said the shift to permanent is related to the demand the company has seen.

As demand surged, some workers at Amazon’s more than 500 U.S. warehouses stopped showing up. Some were fearful of working during the pandemic and others decided to make use of leave policies the company put in place. Workers at several warehouses have held walkouts to protest what they have said are unsafe working conditions.

Amazon said it is investing more than $4 billion in coronavirus-related expenses, including for personal protective equipment, cleaning of facilities and an initiative to test employees for the coronavirus.

Retailers typically hire temporary workers at warehouses and stores in the run-up to the holiday shopping season. Though some are normally given the chance to continue permanently once the season is over, it is unusual for many to be kept. Demand during the pandemic has been near peak holiday levels for Amazon, Walmart and other retailers.

The Amazon spokeswoman said the 125,000 figure is based on the long-term need of warehouses, and added that the 175,000 temporary hires include delivery drivers who work for third-party companies, which make their own decisions about how many to keep.

Although the company has gained better control of demand, “we still definitely have a need for more employees,” the spokeswoman said.