Amazon Now Employs More People in California than Any Other State

Todd Bishop, GeekWire
Todd Bishop is GeekWire's co-founder and editor, a longtime technology journalist who covers subjects including cloud tech, e-commerce, virtual reality, devices, apps and tech giants such as, Apple, Microsoft and Google. Follow him @toddbishop, email, or call (206) 294-6255.
Amazon Now Employs More People in California than Any Other State

Amazon surpassed 153,000 full- and part-time employees in California in the fourth quarter of 2020, rapidly outpacing the more than 80,000 Amazon employees in the company's home state of Washington, the latest numbers from the company show.

Driving the trend: While Amazon has tech, engineering and product development operations in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, the surge coincides with the build-out of its distribution network, Prime Now Hubs, Amazon Pantry and Fresh facilities, and physical retail stores. California is also one of the first states where Amazon is opening last-mile delivery stations in rural areas.

Larger implications: In this new phase of growth, the company's employment promises to more closely mirror population patterns, beyond tech and engineering hubs. With 40 million residents, California is the nation's most populous state. The trends also show the magnitude of Amazon's growth beyond the Seattle region.

  • The updated total in California represents an increase of nearly 70% from the 91,000 employees reported by Amazon in the state earlier in 2020. The surge makes California the company's largest state for employment by far.
  • Washington state, home to the company's Seattle headquarters, had been its largest state for employment prior to 2020. Amazon's latest total of more than 80,000 employees in Washington state is up 8% from 74,000 earlier in 2020.
  • In Virginia, where Amazon has established its second headquarters, or HQ2, the company employed more than 27,000 people as of the fourth quarter, up 46% from more than 18,500 employees earlier in the year.

Data source: The numbers come from an Amazon page that documents the company's economic impact across the country. The company updated the numbers along with its fourth-quarter earnings release. The numbers reflect direct Amazon employment, not contractors or workers employed through third-party firms or agencies. GeekWire has been tracking data from the page for five years, and we filled in the gaps using snapshots captured by the Internet Archive.

Reality check: Amazon is growing so rapidly that its official numbers are often quickly out of date. (The company puts a "+" sign by each employment number in recognition of this fact.) By Amazon's official count, for example, it has 25 fulfillment and sortation centers and 19 delivery stations in California, which would be the most in the nation. However, data maintained by logistics consultancy MWPVL International shows more than 30 Amazon fulfillment and sortation centers in California, and as many as 60 delivery stations in the state.

Global context: Amazon employed nearly 1.3 million people worldwide as of the end of 2020, growing by 500,000 people in one year. The numbers do not include seasonal workers. About 950,000 of those were in the United States, according to Amazon's economic impact map. By comparison, Walmart has about 2.2 million employees globally, 1.5 million of them in the U.S.

This story first appeared on GeekWire.

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A Fisker electric vehicle.​
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