Staff File Photo / Heather

Amazon Staffing

Integrity Staffing, which provides temporary workers for Amazon, began recruiting last week for seasonal warehouse jobs in Joliet. The jobs are expected to pay $12 per hour and up, based on the position and experience.

"We are going to be hiring in the next several weeks for hundreds of seasonal jobs at our Joliet fulfillment center, " Amazon spokeswoman Nina Lindsey said Tuesday.

The new Joliet warehouse opened Oct. 6 with 1, 000 full-time employees, according to Lindsey.

The online retailer is increasing its seasonal hiring by 25 percent over last year, recruiting across the country for jobs in its fulfillment and sorting facilities.

The Seattle company recently hired more than 25, 000 people for regular, full-time positions.

"It used to be that the bulk of holiday hires would be in customer-facing positions on the sales floor and behind the cash register, said CEO John Challenger. "These extra workers would also help pick up the slack in the backroom, helping to receive and stock increased deliveries. Now, as more and more shopping is completed online, the holiday hiring is shifting away from stores and into the warehouses."

A mixed hiring picture from retailers is emerging during a dicey period for the U.S.

The Labor Department reported earlier this month that a sharp slowdown in hiring occurred in September. Average hourly wages slipped by a penny and have risen a tepid 2.2 percent in the past year.

Wal-Mart is hiring 60, 000 holiday employees, Target about 70, 000 and Macy's 85, 000, which are all about flat compared with last year. Kohl's, J.C. Penney and Toys R Us are hiring fewer, while GameStop is hiring about 12 percent more workers.

Amazon has more than 90, 000 full-time employees at its more than 50 fulfillment centers and 20 sorting facilities in the U.S.

Amazon's 500, 000-square-foot Joliet fulfillment center is the online retail giant's first in Illinois, having previously relied on warehouses in Indiana and Wisconsin to serve Chicago and avoid state sales tax.

The new full-time jobs, which pay between $13 and $15 an hour, are already making an impact in southwest suburban Will County — with or without the addition of seasonal workers.

John Greuling, president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development, said beyond the sheer size of the new workforce, the benefits and higher wages offered by Amazon will force other area warehouse operations to raise their own pay scale to be competitive.

"That impact on all of the other distribution operations in the county, over time, will be pretty significant, " Greuling said.

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