At the brand new Amazon customer fulfillment center in Thornton, Colorado, applicants walk into the recruiting office and, often as not, walk out with a job.
CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.
“I kind of been looking for a change, went and applied and they said congratulations, come on in,” said Kathleen Garno, a newly hired employee. She got the news via email.
“When I got the little congratulations, with the confetti, I was like oh my gosh, that was really easy,” Garno said.
Amazon is on a hiring spree these days as it fills 100,000 positions at its fulfillment and delivery facilities in advance of the holidays, the peak U.S. retail season.
“It’s a warehouse job,” said Darian Villalovas, who’d also just been hired. “It’s going to be pretty decent. Just work with the people and I’m a people person so it’s a pretty good job for me.”
These are pretty good times to be job-hunting in America where the unemployment rate was a mere 3.7 percent in October. Several years ago it took Felix Vigil nine months to find work.
“But this time it was quick, real quick,” Vigil said. “And there’s a lot of jobs, just everywhere… I’ve been job hunting and I’ve been getting calls left and right.”
To sweeten the pot, Amazon recently raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour. It achieved the desired effect.
“Companies have been hiring like crazy, retailers not so much,” said Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing expert with Metropolitan State University of Denver. He said while this e-commerce behemoth has automated many jobs out of existence over the years, its massive growth has led to the need for more people.
“As we’ve seen in the past, whenever there’s a new technology, whenever there’s something that’s coming in that’s creatively destroying an industry, that’s creating a new product category, it always creates new jobs and it always creates more new jobs than we had before,” Duber-Smith said.
Amazon says robots, first brought into its fulfillment centers in 2012, have helped expand the work force.
“Not only are we able to speed the time of order delivery, we’re able to store more items in our fulfillment centers which means we need a lot more associates,” said Lauren Lynch, an Amazon spokesperson.
Duber-Smith said there are potential downsides to scarce labor.
“Employers lower the bar on their standards in order to get the low level positions filled,” he said.
But Amazon is going full-speed ahead with its on-the-spot hiring events, offering comprehensive health care for full-time employees on day one and up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave.
“I have a couple friends that need jobs too, so see where they’re at in life and see if we can get them up here,” Villalovas said.
An economic downturn in the U.S. that boosts unemployment would cloud today’s relatively rosy hiring environment. Until then…
“Interesting times we’re living in,” Vigil said. “Yeah, good times.”