Amazon Could Run Out of Workers by 2024

Tales of lackluster working conditions and high turnover rates at Amazon warehouses are nothing new. If one worker walks out the door, there’s another one ready to take their place, right? Maybe not for much longer, as a new report suggests Amazon could face a worker shortage by 2024.

A leaked Amazon memo from mid-2021, obtained by Recode(Opens in a new window), has a stark assessment of the company’s fulfillment workforce: “If we continue business as usual, Amazon will deplete the available labor supply in the US network by 2024,” it says.

In 2019, Amazon’s attrition rate was 123%, compared to 46% across the entire US transportation and warehouse sectors, Recode reports. In 2020, it jumped to 159% while the national average climbed to 59%.

Some regions are struggling more than others. According to Recode, Amazon had expected to run out of workers in Phoenix, Arizona, by the end of 2021 and California’s Inland Empire region by the end of this year. To prevent that from happening, Amazon reportedly stopped enforcing some of its rules in Phoenix-area warehouses.

Though Amazon has successfully displaced many mom-and-pop shops over the years, it now faces strong competition from other retailing and shipping behemoths like Walmart, Target, and FedEx. Those companies are doing their best to entice former or would-be Amazon employees to work in their facilities with higher hourly wages and sign-on bonuses, Recode says.

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The report comes a few weeks ahead of Prime Day, Amazon’s big annual shopping extravaganza. Without enough people to pick and pack whatever it is you buy on Prime Day, Amazon can’t deliver on those two-day or even two-hour shipping promises.

In 2020, German Amazon warehouse employees went on strike for Prime Day, demanding better pay and working conditions. Earlier that year, a strike at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, demanded better COVID protections. Workers there later formed the first Amazon union.

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