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Amazon Preps for Biggest Holiday Yet With 100,000 New Fulfillment Jobs

Amazon is starting its holiday hiring push in a big way, not only bringing in a combined 100,000 full-time and part-time employees for the season across the U.S. and Canada, but also opening 100 buildings in September alone to house new fulfillment and sortation centers, delivery stations and other sites.

The roles offer a starting wage of at least $15 per hour, and in select cities Amazon is offering sign-on bonuses of up to $1,000. The e-commerce giant already started its hiring spree earlier this month with the announcement that it was bringing in 33,000 new corporate and technology jobs.

As of this month, Amazon operates 627 active facilities in the U.S. and 22 in Canada, and has already opened more than 75 new fulfillment, sortation centers, regional air hubs and delivery stations across the two countries this year.

The company hired 175,000 full- and part-time employees across its fulfillment centers and delivery network at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when demand for essentials soared and stay-at-home orders mandated that non-essential stores had to remain closed. During that time period, the company increased employee wages by $2 per hour and doubled overtime hourly base pay.

During the company’s second-quarter earnings call, CEO Jeff Bezos said Amazon was in the process of bringing 125,000 of these employees into regular, full-time positions. The Seattle-based company employed 876,800 people as of June 30, excluding contractors and temporary personnel.

In total, Amazon ended up spending $4 billion during the quarter on Covid-19 related costs. In the present third quarter, Amazon still expects to spend more than $2 billion on additional coronavirus-related measures, including procuring personal protective equipment, deep cleaning its facilities and wage increases for employees.

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Even with the astonishing volume of investments, Amazon posted a record $88.9 billion in sales during the quarter, and profit doubled year-over-year to $5.2 billion.

“Our expansion also comes with an unwavering commitment to safety,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations at Amazon. “Collectively, our new team members have already completed more than 1,200,000 hours of safety training, with over 500,000 more hours expected, to ensure that in addition to fast and efficient delivery for our customers, we’re providing a safe and modern environment for our employees and partners.”

While Amazon is investing in obvious areas for what many are anticipating could be the most strenuous e-commerce peak season yet on warehouses and distribution centers, the company also appears to be bringing some of its more innovative ideas to the table with the growth of its electric bike delivery unit in New York City.

Two “e-bike” veterans have revealed they have been hired as the top brass within the unit, including Justin Ginsburgh, the co-founder of New York City’s Citi Bike bikeshare service, and Alex Vickers, the division’s senior program manager.

The company has not stated how many employees are working on the e-bike team, which is overseen by Amazon’s last-mile delivery unit, or what their plans are for the technology. The recent hires indicate Amazon may be looking to e-bikes as another mode of transportation for last-mile delivery.

There is precedent for Amazon to start an e-bike team—it had a short-lived bike delivery service for its Prime Now delivery service in Seattle and New York City. Amazon has been testing electric cargo bikes for Whole Foods deliveries in New York City since last December, as part of a city-run pilot program aimed at easing congestion and reducing dependence on cargo vans for deliveries.

The e-commerce giant seemingly makes one investment after another to bulk up its fulfillment capabilities across all channels, but has gone into overdrive since the spread of the pandemic.

Amazon’s overall shipping costs totaled $13.6 billion in the second quarter, a 68 percent jump year-over-year. In June, Amazon leased 12 Boeing 767-300 converted cargo aircraft from Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), expanding its existing fleet of 70 aircraft to 82. Later in the month, it acquired self-driving startup Zoox for approximately $1.2 billion.

A month later Amazon said it ordered more than 2,200 heavy-duty Utilimaster “walk-in” delivery trucks from Shyft Group, a Michigan-based specialty vehicle company, to upgrade its delivery truck fleet. In late August, the company extended its delivery truck investments across the pond with the addition of more than 1,800 electric vehicles (EVs) from Mercedes-Benz Vans.

Beyond these investments, Amazon officially got the go-ahead from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to bring its delivery drone fleets into its Prime Air brand, marking only the third such commercial unmanned aircraft system to get the FAA approval for delivery.