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Amazon just keeps on hiring

September 17, 2021, 7:25 PM UTC

Amazon wants to hire the equivalent to the entire population of Aurora, IL.

Over the span of just two weeks, the Jeff Bezos-founded colossus, whose business now stretches from groceries to e-commerce to cloud computing, has announced a hiring spree that could add more than 185,000 new permanent jobs globally—more than the number of people who live in Aurora, the hometown of Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar (the Wayne’s World characters played by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey). The vast majority of the roles Amazon is hiring for are based in the U.S.

The expansion isn’t particularly surprising. 

Amazon’s business has exploded during the pandemic, with few signs of it slowing any time soon. In August, Morgan Stanley analysts said they expected the company’s full-year 2021 revenues to grow more than 23% from last year, while gross profits will expand 33%. 

Considering the growth, hiring has obviously become a priority, particularly in the run-up to the busy holiday shopping season. The latest open positions, a mix of full- and part-time roles across the company’s tech, corporate, warehouse, and transportation divisions, would boost Amazon’s overall U.S. employee count to well over 1 million. And that doesn’t even include the seasonal staff that Amazon may bring aboard. (Last year, it looked to add 100,000 seasonal helpers.) “The pace of hiring they maintain on a normal basis is really insane,” Morningstar analyst Dan Romanoff told Fortune.

Of course, the crutch to Amazon’s hiring plan will be overcoming the current U.S. labor crunch. Go anywhere in the country today, and you’re bound to find a “Help Wanted” sign—a phenomenon that has forced employers to raise wages and offer new perks.

Amazon is no different. The 125,000 warehouse and shipping jobs it wants to fill start at $18 hourly—exceeding the prior floor of $15—while signing bonuses are as high as $3,000. Earlier this month, the company said it would even pay the cost of college tuition for some of its U.S. employees. (Walmart and Target have made similar offers.) 

It seems to be working. On Friday, Amazon said that more than 1 million people had applied for jobs related to its latest career day. Who knows? Maybe even Garth and his mullet-haired buddy Wayne would be Amazon employees today—the company is getting ready to open a fulfillment center in Aurora, after all.

Granted, this is the same company that has faced years of complaints by workers that they are subjected to horrid conditions. Drivers have said they must pee in empty bottles to give them time to meet their daily delivery quotas. Injuries are common in the warehouses. And workers in Chicago have even had to “fight for access to clean drinking water,” as our former colleague, Danielle Abril, wrote in April. 

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who succeeded Bezos earlier this year, told CNBC this week that employee safety in its fulfillment centers is “priority number one.” And the company has taken a handful of steps this year to try and promote worker safety, including a five-year partnership with the National Safety Council. But whether Amazon has adequately addressed the concerns that led to a unionization effort in Alabama—the vote ultimately failed—or if that was only the beginning of a broader push by workers to unionize for safer and better working conditions remains to be seen. 

To quote Wayne Campbell: “It’s the choice of a new generation.” 

Declan Harty
@declanharty
declan.harty@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

Russian elections. Facing the threat of local employees being prosecuted, Apple and Google have removed an app created by allies of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to coordinate protest voting in the upcoming parliamentary election, The New York Times reported Friday. The Russian government had branded the app as illegal, while Navalny's team criticized the tech giants' decisions.  

Treasury's crypto crackdown. The U.S. Treasury Department is ramping up its effort to curb the use of cryptocurrencies in ransomware attacks, according to The Wall Street Journal. President Joe Biden's administration could unveil new sanctions against specific targets as soon as next week, as well as new guidance, that it hopes will act as a warning shot to companies that facilitate ransomware payments, which are often made in digital assets. 

Social media and cars. On a recently released episode of the Recode Media podcast, the head of InstagramAdam Mosseri, equated the societal good of social media to that of cars. The comment was not well received, particularly in the Twitter-verse where former Facebook executive Brian Boland pointed to the wealth of regulations in the auto industry—something Mosseri was asked about on the podcast. Mosseri later acknowledged the analogy was "less than perfect" but stood by the general assertion that social media brings more good than bad into society.

"A more volatile stock." Institutional Shareholder Services, the heavy-hitting proxy advisory firm, is cautioning investors in Five9 about the company's planned sale to Zoom. In a note published Friday, ISS said the nearly $15 billion acquisition by Zoom could result in Five9 shareholders owning "a more volatile stock whose growth prospectives have become less compelling as society inches towards a post-pandemic environment," according to Bloomberg. 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The Facebook Files. In the latest article based on internal documents from FacebookThe Wall Street Journal reported Friday that while CEO Mark Zuckerberg hoped his company could be a force for good in the push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19, the social network was letting the exact opposite happen. Anti-vaccine posts spread rampantly on Facebook. Initial signs earlier this year indicated that 41% of comments made in English on vaccine-related posts on Facebook "risked discouraging vaccinations," The Journal reported. And many of those were coming from just a small handful of posters. 

From the article:

Facebook’s goal of protecting the rollout of the Covid vaccines, described in one memo as “a top company priority,” was a demonstration of Mr. Zuckerberg’s faith that his creation is a force for social good in the world. But the effort ended up demonstrating the gulf between his aspirations and the practical reality of the world’s largest social platform—where the company’s aims can bring it into conflict with its own users.

Despite Mr. Zuckerberg’s effort, a cadre of antivaccine activists flooded the network with what Facebook calls “barrier to vaccination” content, the memos show. They used Facebook’s own tools to sow doubt about the severity of the pandemic’s threat and the safety of authorities’ main weapon to combat it.

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BEFORE YOU GO

Finfluencing. On Wall Street, bankers, financial advisers, and the like have long struggled to explain their products to the masses, whether it be options contracts or a Roth IRA. So, a handful of fintechs like WealthfrontPublic.com, and Fundrise are resorting to so-called "finfluencers," youngsters—some with backgrounds in finance—who use social media to break down even the most complicated topics on the Street for the next generation of investors. 

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