Thousands of job-seekers across America lined up outside Amazon’s gigantic warehouses Wednesday hoping to get hired as part of the retail giant’s first national “Jobs Day.”
About 5,000 people had lined up by 10 a.m. at an Amazon fulfillment center in New Jersey for one of the 50,000 positions that Amazon is seeking to fill.
In Robbinsville, New Jersey, Morgan Devries, 21, said, she used to work in retail but is now applying for work at Amazon because the industry doesn’t pay well enough.
“I work at the airport and they are paying people $12 and under [per hour],” said Clarence Williams.
Lisa Pendry has been laid off eight times since 2008, and each time it’s been even harder to find a new job and this time she spent three months searching. She woke up early and arrived at this parking lot in Baltimore, eager to meet someone who might hire her.
“I’ve got three kids to feed,” said Pendry, 44, who most recently worked as an administrative assistant for Allstate Insurance. “It doesn’t matter what it is anymore, I just need a job.”
Fry Dekowski says he’s hopeful about the new opportunities. The 25-year-old, who makes about $10 an hour as an electronics associate at Walmart, said he was looking for higher pay and better benefits. Driving a forklift, he said, would be an added bonus.
“I’m waiting here so I can get a better life opportunity,” he said. “Working retail for the last five years has been kind of a nightmare. I need a job with benefits, the kind I can start a family with.”
Warehouse jobs typically pay about 31 percent more than retail jobs.
If Amazon does hire 50,000 people this month, labor economists say that could be enough to make a meaningful impact on the country’s August employment numbers. The U.S. economy has been adding 100,000 to 200,000 jobs each month.
“Fifty thousand jobs is a really big number, and it could absolutely move the needle for August,” said Andrew McAfee, co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. “It shows that a technology-focused company like Amazon still needs a lot of good old-fashioned human labor to get their work done.”
As for Pendry, though, she left without a job offer. After five hours of waiting in the sun, it just got to be too much, she said.
“It would’ve been another three or four hours before we got anywhere,” she said. “That line of thousands of people waiting around all day without food – that tells you everything you need to know about the job market.”
“It’s a struggle,” she added. “But I’m going to keep on looking.”