/Amazon is on a hiring spree amid widespread coronavirus layoffs and record unemployment

Amazon is on a hiring spree amid widespread coronavirus layoffs and record unemployment

Nikol Szymul staffs a reception desk at Amazon offices discretely tucked into a building called Fiona in downtown Seattle, Washington on May 11, 2017.
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The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. jobs market, spurring layoffs, hiring slowdowns and record unemployment rates, but Amazon‘s latest hiring announcement tells a different story.  

Amazon said Wednesday it’s looking to fill 33,000 corporate and technology jobs over the next few months, plus thousands of hourly roles in its operations network. An Amazon spokesperson said the corporate and technology jobs will be located across the country, not just in major cities. The technology jobs will support Amazon’s cloud-computing, Alexa and Prime Video teams, among others. 

The company has been on a hiring spree since the pandemic began. Amazon hired 36,400 people in the three months ended June 30, bringing its headcount to 876,800, an increase of 34% year over year. That number is expected to reach 1 million employees around the world, a major milestone, once Amazon permanently hires some of the temporary workers it brought on during the pandemic. It also plans to add 3,500 jobs in a handful of U.S. cities, while it continues to staff up its U.S. and international campuses

Amazon has long been one of the biggest employers in the tech industry and is the second-largest employer overall in the U.S., behind Walmart. It has also been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic, with shoppers flocking to the online retailer for necessities like face masks and hand sanitizer, as well as groceries. 

The company became so overwhelmed with online orders that it hired 175,000 new people to help pick and pack items in its warehouses. Those investments ended up paying off in Amazon’s blowout second-quarter results, when it reported record profits and revenue.

By comparison, companies in and outside of the tech industry have been gutted by the coronavirus. Struggling retailers like J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney have all filed for bankruptcy, while the travel and airline industries are reeling from the pandemic. 

Tech companies big and small have pulled back on hiring and announced layoffs. As of Wednesday, more than 560 tech start-ups have cut roughly 78,900 jobs since March 11, according to Layoffs.fyi, which tracks job cuts in the tech start-up industry. Uber, Airbnb, Yelp and TripAdvisor were just a few of the tech companies that have shed jobs in recent months in order to cut costs. 

Unsurprisingly, Amazon and other big tech stalwarts like Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have proven to be largely resilient during the coronavirus crisis. Many of them have continued to boost the size of their staff in recent months and added billions of dollars to their market caps since the beginning of the year. 

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