On Wednesday, Amazon hosted a colossal, nation-wide jobs fair it billed as the largest in the US.
In an effort to fill 50,000 warehouse jobs at the company, the online retail giant invited people across the county to tour 10 of its warehouses and apply for these jobs in person.
Open jobs seem like good news, but the mass turnout for Jobs Day reveals a troubling insight about the American economy. Business Insider's Pedro Nicolai da Costa wrote that the mass turnout indicates that workers are desperate for jobs and that the
According to Glassdoor, Amazon warehouse workers make around $12 an hour, which CNN reported is below the national average for warehouse employees but above the national average for retail workers. However, Amazon offers warehouse employees benefits, including tuition reimbursement, 401(k) matching, and restricted stock options.
At the warehouse in New Jersey, hundreds of people waited hours at a time for these jobs.
As of Thursday, the company hadn't hit its goal of 50,000 hires.
“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," Amazon vice president of human resources John Olsen said in a statement. "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."
The Robbinsville, New Jersey, warehouse alone had 1,500 jobs up for grabs, according to local news outlet NJ.com. When we stopped by, we watched as hundreds of people turned out to try to snag a role.
Here's what we saw during Amazon Jobs Day at the Robbinsville warehouse:
When we arrived at the warehouse a little after the 8 a.m start time, the line was already getting long.
We headed into the fulfillment center, which has been open since 2014. The place was huge.
Amazon has stated that it plans to hire 50,000 full-time and part-time fulfillment center positions throughout the day for its 10 warehouses across the US.
It's not Amazon's first big hiring event. The company has previously hired hundreds of people at locations like Hillsboro, Oregon, Fall River, Massachusetts, and Everett, Washington.
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But Amazon Jobs Day is the tech giant's biggest job fair so far.
When we stopped by to speak to Olsen, he said he wasn't surprised by the massive turnout.
Olsen cited Amazon's benefits package as a major draw. "I think it's an opportunity for people to have a good, excellent job but also have an opportunity for a future," he told Business Insider.
From day one, full-time Amazon employees receive healthcare, a 401(k), restricted stock options, and access to a career choice program that pre-pays or reimburses 95% of textbook costs, tuition, and fees for certificates and associate degrees.
Part-time employees get the same set of benefits, but receive healthcare after 90 days.
"Especially if you're someone who's maybe out of work right now, or looking for a better job, the prospect of having full health insurance and a 401(k), Amazon stock, and bonuses all starting from day one is very exciting," Amazon spokesperson Nina Lindsey said.
After speaking with Olsen, we left the warehouse to check on the line. We headed out to the exit, past employees filling a number of yellow bins with Amazon purchases.
By the time we got outside, the line had already stretched out of sight. We walked down the line and found that it almost reached the end of the 1.2-million-square-foot warehouse.
On our walk, we met Yami Rodriguez. She's looking to move from North Carolina back to her home state of New Jersey and is applying for a fulfillment associate job at Amazon's Robbinsville warehouse. "Why not explore the options?" she told Business Insider. "It's a good company, so I've heard, and it's expanding."
She cited Amazon's benefits as a major draw, including its tuition assistance and 401(k) plan. "Why not invest in my future?" Rodriguez asked. "If they help with tuition, who's to say I can't move up in the company?"
Katie Street, who had been waiting in line for an hour when we met her, first learned about the job fair from her mother. She was also excited about the company's prospects. "I love Amazon," she told Business Insider. "I have an account. I feel like they're expanding everywhere."
To keep candidates cool on the muggy morning, Amazon handed out free shaved ice treats and bottled water.
Once candidates made their way to the front of the line, they entered a large, white tent, where they checked in and filled out job applications.
Applicants submitted information like their preferred Amazon fulfillment center location and whether they wanted to apply for a full-time or a part-time job.
Next, the candidates headed into the building's recruitment office.
...where they then filled out an online interview ...
... and attended an information session about working for Amazon.
Afterward, candidates could take a tour of the warehouse to get a better sense of what Amazon's work environment looks like.
Amazon said that some applicants would receive job offers on the spot during the day.
"We're a growing company," Lindsey told Business Insider. "So there's lots of opportunity here at Amazon to move up with the company, to find something that you're passionate about."
Lindsey added: "We're looking for people with a great attitude first and foremost, who are obsessed with customers — that is the most important thing to Amazon — and who are looking forward to being a part of the team."