Amazon eyes 125,000 more hires – 2,000 in Spokane area – and plans $18-plus per hour average salary

<p><p>Staff and wire reports</p></p><p><p>Amazon wants to hire 125,000 delivery and warehouse workers and said Tuesday it is paying new hires an average of $18 an hour in a tight job market as more people shop online.</p></p><p><p>Competition for hourly workers has become fierce, and many companies are offering higher pay, sign-on bonuses and other incentives. Last week, package delivery company UPS promised to hand out job offers in 30 minutes after candidates apply for many of the 100,000 holiday workers it plans to hire.</p></p><p><p>Amazon’s starting pay is still $15 per hour, but with labor markets growing so tight in regions of the country, the company said new hires could make as much as $22.50 an hour. It’s also paying sign-on bonuses of $3,000 in some places, including Spokane.</p></p><p><p>Amazon is increasing pay to an average of $18 an hour at its two Spokane-area fulfillment centers, Amazon spokeswoman Karen Riley-Sawyer said in an email.</p></p><p><p>The company also is providing $3,000 sign-on bonuses paid in installments to those who begin work at the company’s Spokane Valley fulfillment prior to Oct. 3. New employees who begin work at Amazon’s West Plains fulfillment center in Airway Heights prior to Oct. 10 are also eligible for a $3,000 bonus, according to the company’s website.</p></p><p><p>In addition, Amazon is providing $100 bonuses to workers who show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination on their first day of employment at the company’s West Plains and Spokane Valley fulfillment centers.</p></p><p><p>Amazon is planning to hire more than 4,500 workers in the state and is seeking to fill more than 2,000 jobs in the Spokane area, Riley-Sawyer said.</p></p><p><p>In an interview Tuesday, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told CNBC that the national grocery chain has 20,000 positions it is struggling to fill.</p></p><p><p>“We’re aggressively hiring anywhere we can,” McMullen said. “One of the biggest constraints we have right now is finding talented people.”</p></p><p><p>In seeking talent, Amazon last week said it would pay the full college tuition for hourly workers starting in January. Workers will be eligible 90 days after they’ve started work. Amazon said it’ll fund tuition at hundreds of partnering schools, but didn’t name them.</p></p><p><p>Companies are having a difficult time finding workers even though the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits has reached pandemic lows. Rising infections with the arrival of the delta variant appear partially to blame.</p></p><p><p>America’s employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, a surprisingly weak gain after two months of robust hiring and the clearest sign to date that the delta variant’s spread has discouraged economic activity, and potentially job seekers.</p></p><p><p>More people have shifted from stores to online shopping over the past year during the pandemic, and retailers have adjusted hiring to accommodate those patterns. Amazon, which is now the nation’s second-largest private employer, hired 500,000 people last year alone.</p></p><p><p>To keep up with the surge in online ordering, Amazon said it has opened more than 250 new warehouses – including the facility in Spokane Valley – airport hubs and other delivery facilities this year. It plans to open another 100 this month.</p></p><p><p>The company said most of job openings are in 18 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.</p></p><p><p><em>Spokesman-Review staff writer Amy Edelen contributed to this report.</em></p></p>