July 29, 2013, 3:18 PM

Obama chooses Amazon as backdrop for jobs speech

The president will speak on economic growth at an Amazon warehouse.

Lead Photo

President Barack Obama has been criss-crossing the country speaking about his proposals to boost economic growth and hiring. And where better to speak than at job-creating machine Amazon.com Inc. Amazon has increased its work force 40% in the past year, and, in advance of Obama’s speech tomorrow, announced today plans to hire 7,000 more workers.

Obama will speak tomorrow about his jobs proposals at an Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, TN. “Tuesday’s speech will focus on manufacturing and high-wage jobs for durable economic growth,” the White House says. “The president will discuss proposals he has laid out to jump-start private sector job growth and make America more competitive, and will also talk about new ideas to create American jobs.”

Amazon made clear today it plans to do its bit, announcing that it is ready to hire 5,000 additional full-time fulfillment employees and 2,000 full- and part-time customer service representatives across the United States. The jobs will help the retailer, No. 1 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, meet growing customer demand, it says. Amazon says it now employs 20,000 workers in its U.S. fulfillment centers, out of a total worldwide workforce of 97,000.

Amazon has been adding personnel steadily in the past year, in part because it is opening new distribution centers so that it can deliver goods more quickly to consumers all over the U.S. and in other countries. Amazon said last week it had a total worldwide workforce of 97,000 as of June 30, up 40.4% from 69,100 a year earlier.

E-commerce jobs, including shipping goods, installing e-commerce software and customer service, grew by roughly 148.2% between 2003 and 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In that time, the combined number of U.S. jobs supporting “electronic auctions” and “electronic shopping,” which includes only retail that is predominantly web-based, grew from 529,000 to 1,313,000, the bureau says.

Amazon’s new full-time fulfillment jobs announced today are available in 17 warehouses it operates across the country. Amazon says it offers such benefits as health care, 401(k) retirement savings and company stock options, which in the last five years have added an average of 9% to full-time employees’ base pay, Amazon says. Through its Career Choice program, Amazon also covers up to 95% of eligible employees’ school tuition, regardless of whether their studies are relevant to a career with the retailer, it says.

The 2,000 customer service jobs Amazon plans to fill are in its contact centers in Grand Forks, ND; Kennewick, WA; Huntington, WV; and Winchester, KY; or as work-from-home positions in Oregon, Washington or Arizona, it says.

Amazon last week reported revenue was up 22% year over year in the second quarter, but posted a net loss of $7 million as a result of increased spending in technology, marketing and fulfillment.

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