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Amazon slows down holiday hiring for the first time in six years

Krystal Hu
An employee works at Amazon’s warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey. (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Amazon (AMZN), the second-largest private-sector employer in the U.S., plans on hiring fewer workers for the holidays this year.

On Wednesday, the e-commerce giant announced its plan to hire 100,000 workers for the coming holiday season, a 16.7% drop from last year, when its hiring target was 120,000. Amazon has been announcing its holiday season hiring plans annually since 2012. This is the first year that it has lowered its hiring goals. 

Amazon will hire fewer people for the holiday season this year. (Krystal Hu/Yahoo Finance)

The deceleration comes at a tough time for companies seeking seasonal workers — the labor market is very tight. In September, the unemployment rate fell to 3.7% — a 48-year low.

Amazon said the main reason for fewer job openings this holiday season is that most of its employees are full-time. “Since the last holiday season, we’ve focused on more ongoing full-time hiring in our fulfillment centers and other facilities,” an Amazon spokesperson told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday.

The Seattle-based retail behemoth has been on a hiring spree as its valuation ballooned to nearly $1 trillion. Amazon said it created over 130,000 new full-time jobs last year. Today, it employs 250,000 full-time employees in fulfillment centers across the country. Amazon is also converting more temporary workers to full-time employees through programs like Career Choice.

Even in the tight labor market, the 100,000 openings this year are likely to be filled. Earlier this month, Amazon received more than 70,000 applications within 48 hours of its announcement that it will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Andy Challenger, vice president at outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, doesn’t see Amazon’s holiday-season hiring plans as a negative reflection of its business. “There is no indication it’s because their business has less demand,” Challenger told Yahoo Finance. “All the major retailers are expecting a really big holiday season.”

Amazon’s slowdown comes as other major retailers and shipping companies ramp up their hiring plans this year. According to a tally of 31 companies released Wednesday by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, holiday hiring is expected to hit a record high with 704,000 jobs available this year.

Krystal Hu covers e-commerce for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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