Washington — Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's Worldwide Consumer business, said Sunday that the "very tight" labor market poses a "challenge" for the world's largest online retailer, despite thousands of new hires joining the company during the holiday season.
In an interview with "Face the Nation," Clark said Amazon has nonetheless had "great success" in recent hiring, with 45,000 new employees onboarded in the last week, but he noted that in some parts of the country, "particularly in metropolitan areas," it has been more difficult to fill positions.
Clark said he is hearing from many small businesses in particular about the challenges they face in hiring employees. Asked what he believes is the cause for this challenge, Clark said workers are "looking at their lives so differently" due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"People have evaluated what kind of jobs do they want to have. Do they want to be in the food service business? Do they want to be in retail, or do they want to be in fulfillment? Do both people in the family want to work? So many things have changed for people during the course of the pandemic that it's hard to say one particular thing," Clark said.
He said Amazon has been able to weather some of the labor challenges by boosting wages and offering incentives to new hires, including signing bonuses up to $3,000.
"We are hiring a lot of people and people continue to be attracted to the great offer we have in pay," Clark said. "It's $18 on average and lots of hiring incentives that are kind of unprecedented, really, of these sorts of $3,000 sign-on bonuses, lots of extra hourly incentives."
On the pandemic front, Amazon has not mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for its workers, but Clark said the company has invested in lab equipment to test employees and opened more than 1,800 on-site vaccine clinics at their facilities.
"We do think vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and we continue to work with our teams to incentivize them and help them understand why it's so important and get them vaccinated," Clark said.
Amazon's consumer chief also expressed confidence that inflation was not impacting consumers' holiday spending, saying the company had "a record-breaking Black Friday" this year.
"It was really interesting to see how customers are spending in this first post-vaccine holiday as we start to come back together," Clark said, listing departments such as apparel, home decor and toys where customers are spending their money. "I don't see inflation particularly impacting consumers this holiday season so far, and we're very optimistic about what's to come."