Amazon tops 1 million employees and seasonal workers for first time as demand and profits surge

Amazon HQ in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon crossed a key milestone over the last quarter, growing to more than 1 million employees and seasonal workers around the world for the first time.

Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, disclosed the total headcount Thursday during the company’s second-quarter earnings call. Amazon’s workforce growth comes amid surging revenue and profits, driven largely by changing consumer habits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The total headcount is larger than the 876,800 employees that Amazon reported as of June 30 in its quarterly earnings release, because that figure does not includes seasonal and contract workers. The company added 175,000 new seasonal workers in March and April to keep up with increased demand from customers eschewing traditional retail.

But those new roles could ultimately take Amazon’s official employee count past 1 million, as well. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in the company’s earnings release that Amazon is in the process of converting 125,000 of those 175,000 jobs into regular, full-time positions.

Amazon doubles quarterly profits to $5.2B, crushes expectations in ‘highly unusual quarter’

While businesses across the country grapple with losses and layoffs, Amazon appears to be bucking every economic trend associated with the pandemic. Amazon posted $5.2 billion in profits in the second quarter, doubling its bottom line year-over-year, despite spending more than $4 billion on pandemic-related initiatives.

“Amazon has created more jobs over the last decade than any other company,” Olsavsky said on the call, noting that  “And we are proud that we’re continuing to create good jobs with industry-leading wages, and great benefits during this challenging time.”

Amazon executives declined to say if it will reinstate its previous hazard pay for its front-line logistics workers or issue additional bonuses.

During a Congressional antitrust hearing Wednesday, Bezos cited Amazon’s ability to add thousands of employees during a period of mass layoffs of one of the advantages of its scale.

But that doesn’t mean Amazon has escaped the pandemic unscathed. Employees are tracking COVID-19 outbreaks at Amazon warehouses around the world, leading some to organize protests and walkouts demanding more transparency and safety precautions from the company. One informal count estimates more than 1,700 Amazon warehouse workers have tested positive for the virus. Amazon has repeatedly declined to disclose the number of employees who have contracted COVID-19.

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