Amazon tops 750,000 employees for the first time, adding nearly 100,000 people in three months

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Dupont, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon’s headcount around the globe now exceeds three quarters of a million people, a major hiring milestone for the second biggest employer in the U.S.

Amazon finished the third quarter with a headcount of 750,000 people, a year-over-year bump of 22 percent. Amazon’s headcount in the U.S. rose to more than 400,000.

Even more staggering than the raw number of people who work for Amazon around the world is the fact that the company hired 96,700 people in just three months. That’s the biggest jump in Amazon’s history, with the exception of a huge spike two years ago when the tech giant brought more than 87,000 Whole Foods employees under its umbrella, pushing headcount up by a total of nearly 160,000 people.

A big part of the jump this quarter comes from holiday hiring in fulfillment centers and transportation. Typically, Amazon sees a big increase in headcount in the third quarter that flattens out in the fourth quarter and into the following year. And holiday hiring went into hyper speed this year as Amazon prepares for the biggest test yet of its plan to speed up shipping.

“It’s more pronounced this year because of the onset of Prime one-day,” Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said on a call with reporters.

Amazon expects costs from the shift of its core Prime benefit from two-day shipping to a one-day turnaround to reach roughly $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter, Olsavsky said, nearly double the $800 million spent in Q2.

Olsavsky added that the company beefed up software engineering and sales and marketing headcounts for Amazon Web Services in the quarter. Amazon is also hiring rapidly in areas like devices, video and international expansion.

In September, Amazon held Career Day events in six cities across the country to boost its pipeline of applicants. The company said the event helped generate 208,000 online job applications.

Right now, there are more than 30,500 job postings on Amazon’s careers page. Amazon’s hometown of Seattle has by far the most open positions, with more than 9,800 jobs listed. Amazon recently surpassed 50,000 people in Seattle.

Amazon has 18 tech hubs around the U.S., and in just the last two months it has doubled down in Chicago and Portland, grabbing more real estate in those cities for future expansion.

And then of course there’s that little thing known as HQ2. Amazon plans to hire 25,000 people to staff its second North American headquarters in Northern Virginia, but that’s a long way out. Amazon began hiring HQ2 hiring in April, and the company plans to grow the team to 400 by the end of the year.

See other Amazon earnings coverage here:

  • Amazon shares fall 8% after missing profit expectations again; $70B in Q3 revenue up 24%
  • Amazon Web Services approaches $9B in quarterly revenue, but growth slows again, missing analyst expectations
  • Amazon will spend nearly $1.5B in Q4 for one-day delivery initiative as shipping costs skyrocket

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