Amazon to Add 30,000 Part-Time U.S. Jobs

Industries Dow Jones Newswires

An Amazon.com Inc driver stands next to an Amazon delivery truck in Los Angeles, California (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Amazon.com said it will create 30,000 part-time positions in the U.S. over the next year, nearly doubling the total as its customer base and sprawling warehouse network expand. 

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Of the jobs, 25,000 will be warehouse positions and the remaining 5,000 home-based positions answering customer calls, emails and chats in what the online retail giant calls its virtual customer-service department. 

Companies from Ford Motor  to Charter Communications have been touting plans to expand their U.S. workforce since the election of President Donald Trump, who emphasized job creation during the campaign and has chastised companies for sending jobs abroad. Amazon itself said in January that it would create 100,000 full-time positions over 18 months. Many were already in the works, and analysts at the time said the announcement was part of an effort to patch up the company's contentious relationship with Mr. Trump. 

Amazon's workforce has been growing rapidly in recent years as it builds dozens of warehouses to be closer to customers, which reduces shipping costs and allows the company to deliver more of its own packages. Last year the world-wide workforce grew 48%, to 341,400. 

Tom Weiland, vice president for world-wide customer service, said a rapidly growing customer base is the reason for more than doubling the size of the U.S. virtual customer-service program. 

"Our work-from-home program, just like our customer-service program generally, continues to grow because the Amazon business continues to grow so fast," he said in an interview. "We just need to keep up with the pace." 

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Mr. Weiland said expanding the virtual customer-service workforce specifically allows it to tap workers who have difficulty leaving the house for a job or face other obstacles, such as stay-at-home parents, military spouses and veterans. More than 70% such virtual employees at Amazon receive benefits, he added. 

Amazon has nearly 40,000 part-time U.S. employees, and those working more than 20 hours a week receive benefits including dental and vision insurance and cash to purchase medical insurance or pay medical costs. Amazon hasn't previously disclosed its part-time hiring plans. 

Amazon and its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, have had notably contentious interactions with Mr. Trump, who during the campaign accused Mr. Bezos of buying the Washington Post to influence politics. Weeks before the election, Mr. Bezos said the candidate's behavior "erodes democracy around the edges." 

Following Amazon's January jobs announcement, a spokesman for Mr. Trump seemed to give the then-president-elect credit, citing a December meeting at which he urged heads of tech companies to keep jobs and production inside the U.S. 

Since Mr. Trump took office, however, Mr. Bezos has joined other tech giants in pushing back against an executive order regarding immigration. The company was one of the first to join a legal action against the original order--which temporarily barred the nationals of seven countries from U.S. entry--contributing a declaration of support for a suit filed by the attorney general of Washington state. 

Write to Laura Stevens at laura.stevens@wsj.com