April 10 2017
Demand for Amazon’s fast-delivery and expansive product base is increasing so much that the company has announced plans to add 30,000 new part-time jobs and work-from-home positions. IWF has long advocated this kind of flexibility as beneficial to everybody, particularly women. Amazon's latest move could be a boon for women looking for more work flexibility.
Amazon announced last week that it plans to hire 25,000 warehouse positions and 5,000 home-based positions answering customer calls, emails, and chats through its virtual customer-service department. This announcement follows Amazon’s announcement in January that it planned to created 100,000 full-time positions over 18 months. These 30,000 positions will be added to the company’s current 40,000 part-time U.S. employee base.
It’s no surprise that the online retail giant is hiring so aggressively given its expansion into every facet of our lives from television programming on our tablets to diaper deliveries at our door. So, they are expanding customer service and fulfillment capabilities to meet the growing demand.
The new positions could be good positions for women and men looking for more flexibility or the ability to earn while at home such as those with kids or aging parents.
Amazon’s vice president for Worldwide Customer Service explained:
“There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job — whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent — and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live.”
These positions will offer what Amazon describes as “competitive wages” and — for employees who work at least 20 hours per week — benefits.
In addition, all of Amazon’s part-time workers are eligible for its Career Choice program that pre-pays 95 percent of an employee’s tuition if they stay in in-demand fields.
This is encouraging news if you’re looking for more flexibility. It’s also encouraging for those voluntarily looking for part-time work. This is a women-friendly move on the part of Amazon.
As last Friday’s jobs numbers remind us, however, there are other workers clocking in at part-time jobs even though they want a full-time job. The numbers of such workers, who the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers underemployed, are still high post-recession. Some 5.6 million people – down 567,000 from the prior year – want a full-time job but must settle for part-time work because they had their hours cut back or couldn’t find full-time jobs. About half of the growth among this group is in retail, leisure, and hospitality.
It’s encouraging to see companies announce plans to expand and when greater flexibility is involved, that offer new opportunity for workers who don’t want a traditional full-time job. Questions still remain though about how to get involuntary part-time workers into the full-time positions they do want.
Progressive economists and policymakers want to increase minimum wages, micromanage overtime, and create more mandates that drive up the cost of hiring. It’s not a coincidence that we’ve seen a rise in underemployed workers in retail, leisure, and hospitality which deliver a fair share of low-wage and minimum wage jobs.
Perhaps it’s time to look at scaling back regulations to promote economic growth and more job opportunities.
The economy is delivering new types of work arrangements that place an emphasis on flexibility and working when you want to. Amazon’s new part-time jobs join other flexible opportunities in the on-demand world for example, where people can drive through ride-sharing or complete tasks or rent out their homes.
Let’s not forget though that many workers want a full-time job, but are forced to work part-time because our heavily regulated economy hasn't yet been able to deliver more full-time jobs.