Amazon, With More WA Workers than Microsoft, Eyes Adding 10K More

Jeff Bezos and company are looking for a few good men and women—well, perhaps more than a few, especially in and around Amazon’s home turf.

Buoyed by years of staggering growth but also facing a tight labor market, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) will work to fill 30,000 jobs across the US by 2020, the tech giant announced Monday. About one-third of those openings are in Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered, and the surrounding area. The roles include part-time and full-time positions and range from entry-level work at fulfillment centers to highly paid tech jobs.

The tech behemoth is ramping up its efforts to fill the openings by heightening its marketing outreach for an upcoming slate of job fairs it’s holding in six US cities. “Amazon Career Day,” as it has dubbed the panel of recruiting events, is slated to take place Sept. 17.

Northern Virginia is one of the six locations where the company plans to put on a job fair this month. It also selected Seattle; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; and Nashville, TN. (Last year, Amazon said it planned to create 5,000 jobs in and around Nashville, including positions in areas like supply chain, fulfillment, and transportation.)

The company’s announcement comes about seven months after it announced Arlington, VA, as the sole site of its second “headquarters,” or HQ2. (Amazon initially picked both Arlington and Long Island City, NY, as winners of the HQ2 sweepstakes; however, in February, it significantly scaled back its hiring and investment plans in New York amid pushback from some local officials.)

In conjunction with Amazon’s campaign to draw attention to its near-term hiring needs and goals, the company published data on its workforce in Seattle and other metropolitan areas where Amazon has a sizable footprint, detailing the number of people it employs and other statistics.

Amazon’s ambitions to expand its operations and headcounts both nationally and in its own backyard have been widely known for years, of course. But its job creation announcements this week are significant because they help quantify the company’s rapid growth.

Economic development officials and pro-business groups in Washington have pointed to such statistics from Amazon and other large employers as evidence that such businesses’ growth has been positive for the region and its residents. Still, some local leaders—pointing to the difficulties caused by the rising cost of living in those areas, especially housing costs—say Seattle’s tech giants should contribute more out of their coffers to provide services to homeless people and to finance the construction of affordable housing.

According to company data, Amazon now has more than 53,000 employees in the state of Washington. That puts it just ahead of the state’s other world-famous tech company, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), which said it had 51,854 employees in the Puget Sound region as of June 30.

That means Amazon’s workers in its home state, who reportedly earned a collective $9 billion in 2018, would represent about 8 percent of the 647,500 employees the company had on its payroll at the end of 2018.

In this decade, Amazon says it has invested more than $75 billion in Washington, more than one-fourth of what it has spent on all its US operations. Those billions have gone toward employee salaries; costs associated with its 1-million-square-foot corporate campus near downtown Seattle, where more than 45,000 of its employees work; data centers and cloud-computing infrastructure; and sites where employees fulfill and sort customer orders.

According to company estimates and methodologies developed by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, those investments have also created more than 200,000 “indirect jobs” in Washington since 2010. This category includes people who help feed and transport Amazon workers and construct the buildings in which those employees work.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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