At Amazon and CVS Health, plenty of applicants despite pandemic

File photo The Amazon facility in Edison.

The number of New Jersey residents seeking unemployment benefits continues to rise — with another big jump in first-time applicants expected Thursday, when the next batch of unemployment numbers are released.

But a check of two national companies with a large presence in the state shows the willingness to apply for jobs is high, too. Simply put, concerns over COVID-19 do not appear to be keeping applicants on the sidelines.

Amazon and CVS Health both said they have been flooded with applicants — both in New Jersey and across the country — after announcing large hiring goals.

“We’re up 150% over the usual interest since this hiring push started,” Amazon spokesperson Lindsay Campbell said.

A CVS Health store in New Jersey.

Amazon said in March it needed to hire 100,000 workers. Then, earlier this week, it said it intends to hire 75,000 more.

CVS Health spokesperson Tara Burke said the company hired approximately 25,000 new full- and part-time workers and is in the process of hiring 20,000 more — and it had approximately 900,000 applications to choose from.

Both companies are still looking for more employees. As are plenty of others.

Gov. Phil Murphy makes frequent reference to the job portal on the state’s COVID-19 information website during his daily briefings. As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 50,000 jobs on the portal from nearly 700 companies.

Large companies such as UPS, Hackensack Meridian Health, ShopRite, Acme, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wawa and Walmart are among those with more than 500 jobs available — with some having a need for thousands of workers.

Campbell said Amazon hired more than 6,000 full- and part-time employees in New Jersey in March. The company, Campbell said, already has nearly 20,000 full-time employees in the state.

CVS Health has a need for nearly 2,500 full- and part-time workers right now, Burke said. The company onboarded more than 250 in the state last month.

Both companies said the hiring process has been adjusted because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Everything is now virtual,” Campbell said. “The new hire orientation and new hire events are no longer done in person. There’s only one instance when you can’t interact online — and that’s to have your picture taken for your badge. And even that, we’re enforcing the 6-feet-apart guideline.”

Burke said it’s a similar process at CVS Health.

“The company will utilize a technology-enabled hiring process that includes virtual job fairs, virtual interviews and virtual job tryouts,” she said.

Both companies also have incentives for new hires.

Campbell said all Amazon hires during the outbreak will start at $17 an hour and with full benefits on their first day.

Burke said CVS is awarding bonuses — ranging from $150-$500 — to employees who are required to be at CVS facilities. The bonuses will be paid to pharmacists and others, including store associates and managers, and other site-based hourly employees.

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development said more than 575,000 New Jerseys have applied for unemployment in the last three weeks.

This week, many of those applicants began receiving the additional $600 per week benefit made available by the federal CARES Act.

Murphy, however, has made it clear that there is requirement to be looking for work during the process.

“You cannot choose to collect unemployment benefits if employment at your current place of work is available,” he said Tuesday.

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