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Amazon.com to hire 7,000 in 13 states, including WV

By From staff and wire reports

Amazon.com Inc. plans to add 7,000 jobs in 13 states, including West Virginia, as part of an effort to beef up staff in its consumer service division and at warehouses where it fills orders.

The online retailer said Monday it would add 5,000 full-time jobs at its U.S. distribution centers, which currently employ about 20,000 workers. It will immediately begin hiring at 17 centers for tasks that include picking items from warehouse shelves, packing them for delivery and operating new technology installed to streamline operations.

Amazon will also add 2,000 jobs in customer service, including full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs at customer service centers in Winchester, Ky.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Kennewick, Wash. and Huntington.

Amazon first opened a Huntington location in 2000, hiring about 370 people. The company recently expanded by building a 70,000-square-foot customer service center at Kinetic Park. That expansion was designed to create an additional 200 jobs by 2014.

A company representative did not respond to a request asking exactly how many jobs from the latest announcement would be based out of Huntington.

Though the specifics have yet to be announced, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office welcomed the news.

 "This is great news for West Virginia," Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said. "Amazon has been a wonderful business partner with West Virginia and we're exited and looking forward to helping them bring more jobs to the state."

Goodwin said the Governor's Office and officials from the state Development Office would reach out to the company in the coming weeks to offer the state's assistance in recruiting new workers.

The company's announcement came one day ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to its Chattanooga, Tenn., fulfillment center, where he is expected to outline policy proposals to spur the creation of middle-class jobs.

Amazon is the latest tech giant to tout the creation of jobs in the United States. Apple recently announced it would make some Mac computers domestically.

Some Silicon Valley firms have been criticized in the past for pushing to expand visa programs to bring foreign engineers to the United States, even as they send manufacturing and service-level jobs overseas.

Amazon's warehouse jobs are full-time positions with benefits including health care, stock awards and retirement savings plans, the company said.

"We're focused on sustained innovation across Amazon and want to help our employees succeed -- whether at Amazon or elsewhere," said Dave Clark, vice president of worldwide operations and customer service.

Amazon's warehouse hires are part of a long-term strategy to build out its system of distribution centers to more quickly and cheaply deliver orders to consumers. The company has made investments in devices, discount programs, online videos and even robots. Amazon is expected to soon expand its experimental grocery service in Seattle.

The firm said it believes the efforts will pay off in long-term growth.

"We are investing for the large opportunity we have in front of us," Tom Szkutak, Amazon's chief financial officer, said in a call with reporters last week ahead of the company's second-quarter earnings report.

In the near term, the experiments have been costly. Amazon lost $7 million in the quarter, a surprise to analysts who had expected a slight profit. And the firm said losses would continue in the next quarter.

Amazon shares fell $5.91 in Monday trading to close at $306.10.


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