Amazon to add 3,500 tech jobs in cities across U.S., spreading key roles further from Seattle HQ

One of Amazon’s headquarters towers is reflected in downtown Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon will spend $1.4 billion on nearly 1 million square feet of new physical office space in six U.S. cities as the tech giant spreads its corporate footprint beyond Seattle and continues growing despite the ongoing economic crisis.

The expansion will add 3,500 tech jobs in Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York CIty, Phoenix, and San Diego, Amazon announced Tuesday. The roles span across businesses including Amazon Web Services, Alexa, Amazon Advertising, Amazon Fashion, OpsTech and Amazon Fresh.

“These 3,500 new jobs will be in cities across the country with strong and diverse talent pools. We look forward to helping these communities grow their emerging tech workforce,” Amazon HR chief Beth Galetti said in a statement.

Amazon, which employs more than 50,000 people in and around its Seattle headquarters, has been at odds with the Seattle City Council for years over its impact on the community, and efforts by the city to impose new taxes on big businesses.

Last year, after a prior tax battle, the company announced plans to move its worldwide operations group to nearby Bellevue, Wash., where it plans to have more than 15,000 employees. It is also moving forward with plans to set up a second headquarters in Northern Virginia as part of its highly-publicized HQ2 initiative.

Amazon is now polling employees about which cities in the Seattle region they’d prefer as new “office workplace options,” including Tacoma and Redmond. The Downtown Seattle Association last week asked the Seattle City Council to reconsider a new payroll tax following news of Amazon’s poll.

The council in July approved the tax on the highest salaries at companies in the city with annual payroll expenses of $7 million or higher, generating an estimated $200 million yearly to fund relief for families negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviate Seattle’s homelessness crisis.

Amazon’s announcement Tuesday also comes despite the shift to remote work as other companies rethink the physical office amid the pandemic. Amazon has reopened its buildings but will allow employees who can work from home to do so through Jan. 8, 2021.

Facebook said earlier this month that its WFH policy will extend through July 2021, though it also just signed a lease for a 730,000 square-foot office in Manhattan.

Outdoor retailer REI said last week that it will try to sell its new Seattle-area headquarters complex that was just completed, instead dispersing employees across multiple smaller offices in the Seattle area.

Other tech companies such as Twitter are committing to a long-term remote work policy, putting the future of commercial real estate and physical offices in question.

Amazon stock has soared since mid-March as millions of customers rely on the e-commerce giant amid the pandemic for online shopping, cloud computing, and more. The company posted $88.9 billion in revenue for the quarter ending June 30, up 40% year-over-year.

The company has created 175,000 new jobs since March and is in the process of converting 125,000 of those roles into regular, full-time positions. Amazon’s employee count, not including contractors and temporary workers, reached 876,800 as of the end of the second quarter.

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