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Amazon Wants to Hire 50,000 People, But Only 20,000 Actually Applied Yesterday

With low unemployment and many other options for workers, the online giant faces a recruiting challenge.

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BY Bill Murphy Jr. - 03 Aug 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Amazon held a massive hiring event yesterday, hoping to make on-the-spot job offers that would help the company fill 50,000 positions, in a much-publicized event the company called Amazon Jobs Day.

But while lines were long at many company facilities, Amazon said not enough people showed up and applied to reach the total goal. About 20,000 people put in applications, a company spokesperson told me last night, which resulted in "thousands of job offers extended to candidates and more to come in the next few days."

Granted, 20,000 is still a very big number, but if the company wanted to fill all 50,000 jobs in a single day, as most reports suggested, that might simply have been too ambitious. That figure would have equaled roughly a third of the entire number of private sector jobs created in the United States in June, for example.

Here's the company's full statement last night, from John Olsen, Vice President of Amazon's Worldwide Operations Human Resources:

"We are very pleased with the results from Amazon Jobs Day. A record-breaking 20,000 applications were received on this day alone with thousands of job offers extended to candidates and more to come in the next few days. We continue to process candidates at events across the country and expect that to continue over the coming days. We're excited to welcome these new employees to the Amazon team!"

Overall, Amazon pledged earlier this year to hire 130,000 people by the middle of 2018, which would bring its total workforce at about 300,000. But the company faces challenges in recruiting workers. For one thing, the unemployment rate in the United States was just 4.3 percent in May, the lowest it's been in 16 years.

As we've pointed out previously, the starting salaries for the jobs Amazon is trying to fill range from about $11 to $14 an hour, depending on the job duties and location. Most of these jobs require manual labor in some potentially difficult conditions, the company discloses in its job descriptions.

But they offer medical benefits and even tuition reimbursement--from the first day of employment for full-time workers. And a lot of people interviewed in the lines at a dozen Amazon facilities yesterday sounded very eager to join the company.

"Yes, I am desperate. I really need a job," Tim Clemens, who got up at 3 a.m. to ensure he was the first person in line at an Amazon facility in Illinois, told Fox Business.

Amazon reported on its own events via Facebook Live. "The benefits, the opportunities, the pay--the starting pay, let me point that out. What more could I ask for?" one man told an interviewee in the Amazon broadcast, reporting he'd been offered a job on the spot.

Separately, a woman interviewed at a hiring event in New Jersey told an interviewer, "I'm extremely excited. I've been looking for work. ... For me to be able to come here today and have this opportunity, I'm blessed. I feel very grateful today."

Here are some of the scenes from Amazon Jobs Day around the country: