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Why Amazon warehouse jobs are the new holiday retail jobs

Workers pack items Sunday at an Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, Calif.
Noah Berger/Reuters/Landov
Workers pack items Sunday at an Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, Calif.

With the holiday season fast approaching, Amazon will add more than 120,000 seasonal positions at its U.S. fulfillment centers, sortation centers and customer service sites, including 8,000 positions at its warehouses in the Inland Empire.

The demand for seasonal warehouse workers comes as Amazon and other online retailers prepare to for a bustling holiday season. Ecommerce now accounts for more than 10 percent of all holiday sales, bringing in more than $97 billion in 2015, according to the Department of Commerce. Amazon is the biggest player in that market.

Over the years, the popularity of online holiday shopping has meant fewer "help wanted" signs in the mall. Instead of ringing up merchandise on a cash register, more seasonal workers are needed to unload merchandise from trucks and prepare boxes for home delivery.

“It may be a retail job in the age of the internet, but it is still a retail job,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute's California Center, which has studied the changes in the local workforce.

The jobs are temporary, though company spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said the best employees will be offered permanent opportunities.

“It’s a way for us to find high-quality workers," Robinson said. "So we expect thousands of those positions to stay on in full-time rolls.”

Robinson says last year Amazon kept on about 14 percent of seasonal workers nationwide, and she expects the number to be higher this year.

The warehouse jobs pay up to $12.75 an hour – considerably more than California's $10 minimum wage – and no education is required beyond a high school degree. Candidates have to be willing to lift up t0 49 pounds and walk or stand for 10-12 hours. They also have to be able to withstand heat.

"Temperature in the fulfillment center may vary between 60 and 90 degrees, and will occasionally exceed 90 degrees," according to a recruiting page for fulfillment associates at Amazon's Moreno Valley warehouse.