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Amazon to Hire 75,000, With Signing Bonus, as Worker Race Intensifies

Amazon's move follows pay increases unveiled at McDonald's and comes amid the highest level of unfilled positions in the U.S. job market on record.

Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Inc. Report unveiled plans Thursday to add 75,000 new jobs across its fulfillment and transportation divisions, with singing bonuses linked to coronavirus vaccinations.

Amazon said starting hires will be paid $17 per hour as well as sign-up bonuses of as much as $1,000 per person. A further $100 will be paid to new employees who can provide proof of a coronavirus vaccination, the company said. 

The job plans followed a statement from McDonald's USA earlier Thursday that it will roll out pay increases for employees at company-owned restaurants over the next few months, with the aim of increasing average hourly pay to $15 an hour by 2024. 

“Working at Amazon also comes with an unwavering commitment to safety, especially as we continue to navigate a global pandemic," said Amazon's vice president of global customer fulfillment. "In addition to the great pay and robust benefits available to new hires starting on their first day, we’re offering a $100 benefit to new hires who come to Amazon already vaccinated for COVID-19.”  

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Amazon shares were marked 1.25% higher in early trading Thursday to change hands at $3,190.50 each. 

Last month, Amazon said it plans to boost pay by between 50 cents and $3 per hour for its 500,000-strong workforce, a move it forecast would cost around $1 billion. 

Wage pressures have been simmering in the U.S. labor market for the past few months, while at the same time many companies -- particularly small businesses -- have reported difficultly in bringing back staff as states re-open and the pandemic wanes.

April JOLTS job openings data indicating 8.1 million open positions, the highest on record, while last week's April non-farm payrolls reported showed average hourly earnings rise 0.7% on the month -- against a forecast of -0.1% -- and 0.3% on the year. 

Amazon booked around $2 billion in COVID-related operating costs over the first quarter, linked in part to what it described as "direct investments in employee safety", and forecast a further $1.5 billion for the three months ending in June.

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