Amazon looks to hire 12,500 corporate and tech employees in Seattle, more than in any other city

Amid sharp criticism over how it treats its employees, Amazon is looking to fill nearly 55,000 open corporate and tech positions globally, including 40,000 in the U.S., the company announced Wednesday in the lead-up to its annual Career Day event for prospective job applicants.

Amazon’s hiring spree is concentrated in Seattle, where the company, Washington state’s largest private employer, has nearly 12,500 open roles, more than in any other city. An Amazon spokesperson said that the open positions in Seattle are a combination of new roles and backfills for attrition and transfers out of the city.

Trailing Seattle are Arlington, Virginia, where Amazon has roughly 2,600 open jobs at its second headquarters, and Bellevue, where the company lists roughly 1,500 open tech and corporate positions. Amazon has said it expects to locate 25,000 employees in Bellevue within four years.

Amazon is also looking to fill a number of managerial positions at Puget Sound area warehouses, and to staff up its Project Kuiper satellite internet offices in Redmond.

The company’s hiring plans offer a degree of rebuke to concerns from business groups that Seattle’s JumpStart payroll tax, which took effect this year, could prompt large employers like Amazon to leave the city. The Downtown Seattle Association and Seattle Chamber of Commerce, for instance, have warned that the tax, of between 0.7% and 2.4% of salaries over $150,000 for businesses with at least $7 million in payroll, could have a chilling effect on business.

“The job openings here in Seattle alleviate some concerns that an exit was imminent,” said University of Washington Foster School of Business professor Jeff Shulman, who studies what makes Seattle attractive to businesses. “But these are just openings. It’s possible they won’t fill them, or if they continue to find talent here, they’ll move it elsewhere.”

Amazon has already started moving thousands of jobs out of Seattle and into its under-construction Bellevue campus. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the company had hoped to move its thousands-strong operations division, which manages worldwide delivery logistics, out of Seattle and into Bellevue by 2023.

Globally, the Amazon segment recruiting the largest number of new hires is Amazon Web Services, the company’s most profitable business division, which has more than 5,000 job openings.

Other divisions with large numbers of open roles include Amazon’s retail wing, teams developing operations technology like delivery route mapping systems, and Alexa. The bulk of the remaining open roles are for support functions like finance and human resources, according to an Amazon spokesperson.

Where previous Amazon hiring events have generated blocks-long lines of job seekers thronging the company’s South Lake Union campus, this year’s Career Day, on Sept. 15, will be virtual. The online forum includes job panels, a message from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and the chance to sign up for one of 20,000 15-minute coaching sessions with Amazon recruiters.

Amazon’s employment boomed last year as the company onboarded more than 400,000 people, largely hourly warehouse staff, to meet pandemic-juiced demand for online shopping. Nationwide, Amazon employed 950,000 people at the end of 2020, making it the country’s second-largest employer after Walmart.

Washington is the only state in which Amazon’s salaried corporate and tech employees outnumber hourly wage-earners. The company employs roughly 60,000 office workers here and 20,000 hourly warehouse and call center personnel.

Amazon has taken heat in recent months over what some workers say is a toxic workplace culture at its corporate offices and warehouses.

Some corporate employees have taken aim at Amazon’s performance-review process, which is intended to force out 6% of its corporate workforce annually, calling it opaque and demoralizing.

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Discrimination has also been a central complaint of corporate and warehouse workers alike. Seven Amazon employees have filed discrimination suits against the company this year, represented by a high-profile New York law firm.

Wednesday, the online tech magazine Protocol reported that Jassy, Amazon’s CEO, had stepped in to prevent the firing of an executive who had been recommended for termination over concerns about allegedly discriminatory comments he made to a Black employee. Amazon said it investigated those complaints and took appropriate corrective action.

At warehouses, workers say they’re forced to keep a relentless pace or risk being fired. California lawmakers are expected in coming weeks to vote on a bill that would require Amazon to disclose productivity metrics at its warehouses, and would ban one metric the company uses to penalize workers who take breaks.

In its Wednesday announcement of this year’s Career Day, Amazon noted that the company is ranked No. 2 on the World’s Best Employers list from Forbes and is on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies list.

“We’re working hard every day to be the best place for people to have satisfying and fulfilling long-term careers,” Jassy said in a statement.

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