Amazon now employs nearly 1.3 million people worldwide after adding 500,000 workers in 2020

Amazon now employs nearly 1.3 million people worldwide after adding 500,000 workers in 2020

That’s a lot of interviews.

Amazon brought on a whopping 500,000 workers in 2020 to help the tech giant meet increasing demand for its online shopping and cloud computing services, fueled by the pandemic.

The Seattle company now employs nearly 1.3 million people, adding more than 170,000 workers in the holiday quarter alone. Its headcount is up 63% from the year-ago period. The latest numbers were part of Amazon’s fourth quarter earnings report that broke revenue records and blew past analyst expectations.

Amazon’s current total headcount is actually larger the figures noted above, as they do not include hundreds of thousands of seasonal and contract workers.

At the outset of the pandemic, Amazon hiked hourly pay for workers confronting the coronavirus crisis by $2 an hour and doubled overtime pay. The company extended the pay increases twice, through April and May, before ending it in June.

Amazon in June said it would pay $500 million in bonuses to frontline workers and delivery partners. It also gave a $300 holiday bonus to frontline workers in December.

Conditions for Amazon warehouse workers have been the subject of scrutiny and criticism from employee activists and politicians. Amazon has implemented safety measures in warehouses and fulfillment centers to help manage COVID-19 cases, and is conducting thousands of tests per day. More than 700 employees are being tested every hour, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said today a call with analysts. The company has done more than 1 million tests to date.

Amazon incurred another $4 billion in costs related to COVID-19 initiatives in the fourth quarter; total costs for 2020 came in at more than $11.5 billion. That cost includes expenditures to help keep employees safe; additional pay for workers; and for additional delivery capacity.

Amazon in 2018 raised its minimum wage to $15/hour for its U.S. workers, after facing pressure to boost compensation in its fulfillment centers and other facilities.

Amazon is pushing to get its frontline workers vaccinated. Last month it sent a letter to President Joe Biden, offering to help with the country’s vaccination efforts.

The company’s stock is up more than 60% since March and was trading at around $3,380 on Thursday before the market closed. Amazon’s market capitalization has risen to $1.7 trillion, right behind Microsoft, which also beat earnings expectations last week. They trail Apple ($2.2 trillion) for the title of most valuable publicly-traded U.S. company.