Amazon hires thousands but still faces huge worker shortage

Amazon has added nearly 630,000 workers to its payroll over the past 18 months, but that still isn't enough to support its extensive operations.

In response, the e-commerce giant is amid a hiring frenzy to help prevent it slipping behind.

For the holiday season, the company is looking to employ 150,000 seasonal staff in the US, over 50,000 seasonal staff in Europe and over 110,000 in India.

Job seekers in the US can get seasonal jobs with an average starting pay of $18 per hour, sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000, an additional $3 per hour depending on shifts in many locations, and the opportunity to transition to long-term careers.

The firm is also aiming to hire 55,000 corporate and tech employees globally, as well as 125,000 full- and part-time operations employees in hundreds of cities and towns across the US.

On the supply chain side of things, Amazon has begun operations at its US air cargo hub in Northern Kentucky. The $1.5 billion investment at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will create more than 2,000 new Amazon jobs over the next several years. It will serve as the primary hub for Amazon Air’s US cargo network, enabling Amazon to process millions of customer packages per week.

“In quarter three, labour became our primary capacity constraint, not storage space or fulfilment capacity,” said Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky on the results call last week.

“As a result, inventory placement was frequently redirected to fulfilment centres that had the labour to receive the products,” Olsavsky said. “This resulted in less optimal placement, which leads to longer and more expensive transportation routes.”

Olsavsky added: “Labour shortages and supply chain disruptions upset the balance and resulted in additional costs to ensure that we continue to maintain our service levels to customers.”

While the firm has been short of staff, Olsavsky stressed Amazon wasn't lacking in storage space. “We made strong progress in the third quarter to build and open new facilities, and as a result, for the first time since the pandemic began, we are no longer capacity-constrained for physical space in the network,” said Olsavsky.

This morning, Amazon gave an online update on its holiday season preparations. It said: “Our teams have been hard at work for months, focusing on capacity and demand planning to balance our customers’ needs against any supply chain or transportation challenges that may occur.”

It went on: “While we are always investing in our supply chain and transportation network, we have done even more this year to ensure we don’t let recent supply-chain constraints impact the Amazon experience for our customers.”

It added it had more than 50,000 trailers to haul freight around the world, that it will have more than 85 aircraft in its Amazon Air cargo fleet later this season, and that it had increased its entry port network by 50 per cent.

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