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Tomorrow, President Obama visits and Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga. He'll be talking about job creation. That may help explain the timing of an announcement today from Amazon. It's going on a hiring spree, looking for 5,000 new full-time employees for its U.S. distribution centers. NPR's Wendy Kaufman has more on Amazon's plans to grow.
WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Amazon currently employs about 20,000 workers in its distribution centers, so 5,000 new jobs represents a sizable increase in the company's frontline workforce. After nearly two decades of selling merchandise largely tax free, Amazon knows that consumers want to get their merchandise fast. And to do that, Amazon has to build facilities practically everywhere, even if that means paying sales tax.
The newest jobs are in places like Chattanooga, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Hebron, Kentucky. Average pay for these kinds of jobs, according the company's website, is $12.88 an hour. Here's Amazon's Mary Osako.
MARY OSAKO: These are full time jobs that include comprehensive benefits on day one, including healthcare, 401(k) and company stock awards, which over the past five years have added an average of 9 percent to base pay annually.
KAUFMAN: In addition to the 5,000 new distribution center jobs, Amazon is adding 2,000 new customer service positions, but most will be part-time and seasonal.
COLIN SEBASTIAN: They are big numbers.
KAUFMAN: And, says Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert Baird and Company...
SEBASTIAN: This is an optimistic sign by Amazon that they expect to continue to do very well.
KAUFMAN: Amazon continues to take sales away from other retailers. But economist Ken Goldstein of the Conference Board says the new hiring also reflects a bigger and encouraging trend.
KEN GOLDSTEIN: What's really positive is while this is Amazon's announcement, they're not the only ones making these kinds of plans. That's the real import of all of this.
KAUFMAN: He notes that over the last few months, the number of jobs in retail has been growing, a signal that retailers are confident consumer spending is about to pick up. Wendy Kaufman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.