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Amazon to hire 100,000 workers as online orders surge on coronavirus worries

(Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O on Monday said it would hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States to deal with a surge in online orders, as many consumers have turned to the web to meet their needs during the coronavirus outbreak.

With shoppers clearing out shelves in fear of quarantines or product shortages, retailers are racing to keep food and hygienic items in stock and have employees on hand for in-store work or delivery.

Like Amazon, U.S. supermarket chains Albertsons, Kroger KR.N and Raley's have sought new hires to staff busy sections and fulfill online orders. They are turning to people in the restaurant, travel and entertainment businesses who are suddenly looking for work because of the coronavirus.

"We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back," Amazon said in a blog post here.

Major shipper United Parcel Service Inc UPS.N said its trucking and air deliveries were still on despite growing government restrictions on commercial activities. It said Monday it was meeting demand with its existing workforce.

The coronavirus, which has led to more than 7,100 deaths globally and prompted mass lockdowns of people, has also led to items being out of stock on Amazon and some deliveries taking longer than usual.

Amazon’s headcount fluctuates seasonally, recently peaking for the holiday quarter at 798,000 full and part-time workers. It was not immediately clear how many people Amazon would employ after it hires 100,000 more.

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To draw new employees, Amazon said it would add $2 to its minimum $15 per hour to U.S. workers’ wages through April. The extra pay for hourly employees in North America and Europe is expected to cost more than $350 million, Amazon said.

Meanwhile, other retailers facing long queues are making pitches for talent, too.

It was not clear if there would be any impact on delivery operations from new government restrictions. In the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday, officials said people must stay at home except for some essential purposes, such as work for “businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences.”

An Amazon spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment on the San Francisco order.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru, Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Lisa Shumaker

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