How Amazon’s workforce exploded
While many companies have been forced to postpone their hiring plan or even cut positions with the health crisis, Amazon has experienced an unprecedented wave of recruitment. The e-commerce giant created more than 500,000 full-time and part-time jobs in 2020, to which were added 170,000 new hires in the first nine months of 2021. In the space of two years, the company’s workforce has nearly doubled globally.
With now nearly 1.5 million employees, Amazon is “only” the second American company to employ more than a million people worldwide (not counting employees of McDonald’s franchises). The number one private employer remains retail giant Walmart , which employs a total of 2.2 million people. But with its growth showing no signs of stopping, Amazon could well take over the top spot in the not-too-distant future.
As Amazon workers prepare for the busy holiday season, thousands plan to strike on Black Friday in more than 20 countries, including initiative of a campaign led by a coalition of 70 unions and organisations. They demand the improvement of working conditions as well as an increase in wages. While these protests are unlikely to have any real impact on Amazon’s supply chains, they are mainly aimed at raising awareness about the situation of those who work in the group’s warehouses.
WITH 1.2 MILLION EMPLOYEES, AMAZON HAS BECOME THE THIRD LARGEST EMPLOYER ON THE PLANET.
It’s a hiring spree at Amazon. Since the start of 2020, the American giant has created exactly 427,300 jobs. By way of comparison, this is more than all the employees of Carrefour (322,000), another retailer and one of the largest employers in France.
In total, Jeff Bezos’ group now employs 1.2 million people ( including nearly 10,000 in France ), making it the third largest company on the planet by the size of its workforce. And that’s without counting on the temporary workers who come to lend a hand at the end of the year to the group’s employees. There will be 100,000 this year. Nor even the drivers to whom the company subcontracts its deliveries and who number 500,000.
Only the distribution giant Walmart (2.2 million employees) and the Chinese oil company China National Petroleum (1.34 million) employ more people.
Record number of hires in one year
At this rate, Amazon should quickly overtake them. Between September 2018 and October 2020, the company indeed doubled its workforce from 613,000 to 1.23 million employees. If it maintains its hiring rate of 400,000 people per year, the e-merchant will be the largest private employer in the world ahead of Walmart by 2023.
The Covid crisis which allowed Amazon to achieve record sales has strongly contributed to this expansion this year. But even without that, its growth has never in history. “No American company has hired so many workers so quickly,” assures Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian in The New York Times. Amazon beat the previous record in this area held by Walmart, which had hired 230,000 people in one year in 2000.
Gigantism worries the regulatory authorities both in the United States and in Europe. Thus, Brussels has opened an anti-trust procedure concerning Amazon, which it suspects of abusing its dominant position by using for its benefit the data collected from the sellers of its marketplace. Amazon is also regularly under fire from critics like this week after an international trade union organization accused Vice Amazon of spying on its employees.
For its part, Amazon denies being a bad employer by recalling that its employees are paid 15 dollars an hour (compared to an average of 13.19 dollars for retail employees) and that it will pay 300 dollars in bonus to its full-time employees in the United States.