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Amazon is adding 4,800 full- and part-time jobs to Philadelphia and the surrounding region, business representatives and city officials announced.
Gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday morning, city officials and Amazon reps touted the prospect of “life-sustaining jobs,” which will pay a minimum of $15 an hour, plus offer health care, paid leave, and other benefits.
It’s not clear how many of the jobs will land in Philadelphia proper. Sam Bankole, senior staffing manager at Amazon, said they would all be within the metro area, naming Camden and Wilmington as possible locations. “We are focused on serving communities that are struggling and underserved,” Bankole said. “We’re going to use our local partners to help us find those associates and get them into the jobs.”
The e-commerce giant is on a nationwide hiring spree, announcing plans to hike its average starting wage to $18 an hour and bring on 125,000 new transportation workers across the country. The company has since added 4,000 jobs to the Kentucky metro area at that pay rate, along with signing bonuses.
While Philly lost a hotly contested bid for the second Amazon headquarters, the company’s footprint in the region has continued expanding at a steady clip. Amazon leases more than 50 large warehouses in the region, and earlier this month purchased its first brick-and-mortar office building in King of Prussia for $26.5 million, The Inquirer reported.
The company already employs more than 25,000 people in Pennsylvania, with legions of workers concentrated at fulfillment centers in the southeast corner of the state.
As Amazon’s growth has accelerated during the pandemic, so too has its share of criticism. Workers have railed against the company over issues like wages and working conditions. Last year, a Philadelphia-area woman who claimed she was fired for speaking out against her employer took the case to the National Labor Relations Board. Unionization efforts in parts of the U.S., while unsuccessful to date, have become a flashpoint for the company.
The addition of thousands more jobs would come as the pandemic continues to blunt the city’s economy.
Philadelphia’s unemployment sat at 9.4% in July, which is much lower than the nearly 20% unemployment rate in Philly a year prior but higher than the national average of 5.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Before COVID, in February 2020, Philly’s rate hovered near 6%.
Mayor Jim Kenney couched the new jobs as an opportunity to also combat the city’s gun violence crisis. Of the proposed wages and benefits, he said: “I think that’s what need to provide for our kids, and move them away from making these crazy decisions that put them in the grave or put them in jail.”
WHYY reporter Tom MacDonald contributed reporting.