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Local News

Amazon opening in Joliet adds to local job growth

Construction crews work in August to refurbish an existing warehouse along Laraway Road in preparation for an Amazon fulfillment center in Joliet. The company already hired more than 1,000 workers before opening Oct. 7 and plans to hire hundreds more in the coming weeks for the holiday season.
Construction crews work in August to refurbish an existing warehouse along Laraway Road in preparation for an Amazon fulfillment center in Joliet. The company already hired more than 1,000 workers before opening Oct. 7 and plans to hire hundreds more in the coming weeks for the holiday season.

JOLIET – Holiday hiring in the Joliet area will be highlighted by the arrival of the Amazon fulfillment center.

The company already hired more than 1,000 workers before opening Oct. 7 and plans to hire hundreds more in the coming weeks for the holiday season.

The Joliet fulfillment center, part of the pipeline for delivering merchandise to Amazon customers worldwide, is likely to be busy for the holidays. It carries the kind of products many shoppers will buy for gifts.

The facility “processes small items, like books and DVDs and toys,” said Amazon spokeswoman Nina Lindsey.

“In the next several weeks, we’ll be hiring hundreds for seasonal jobs,” Lindsey said. “That’s work for the very busy holiday season.”

Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. announced this week it will add 100,000 seasonal employees for the holiday season throughout its network of fulfillment centers in the United States.

The new jobs for Joliet come as unemployment rates already are heading downward.

The September unemployment rate in Joliet was 5.7 percent, compared to 6.6 percent in August and 7.2 percent in September 2014, according to numbers released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment.

In Will County, unemployment was at 4.9 percent, compared to 5.6 percent in August and 6.3 percent in September 2014.

Similar downward trends in unemployment rates were seen in other cities and counties across Illinois.

Amazon’s arrival in Joliet is likely to have an impact beyond adding hundreds of jobs, said Pat Fera, director of the Workforce Investment Board of Will County.

Amazon pay, ranging between $13.50 and $15 an hour, is “kind of on the high end” for logistics companies in the area, Fera said. Other employers may have to pay more to keep employees, she said.

“We think it’s going to start pushing up wages for other employees in logistics as well,” Fera said.

Employment in Will County is healthy, she said.

“We’ve seen almost 10,000 jobs in the last 12 months alone, which is about 3 percent job growth,” she said. “That’s really strong. That’s higher than the Chicago metropolitan region and the state.”

Job growth is “across the board,” Fera said. “It’s not just in logistics.”

But Amazon is getting lots of attention because of the sheer number of jobs coming to one location.

Amazon joins a list of companies that have attracted attention from job seekers not just in Will County but in other areas as well, said John Greuling, chief executive officer for the Will County Center for Economic Development.

“I think anytime you have a company that brings in 1,000 new jobs, obviously it has an impact on the local workforce,” Greuling said. “But in our case, it’s a regional workforce, because our workforce not only comes from inside Will County but also outside of Will County.”

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SEPTEMBER UNEMPLOYMENT RATES

Municipality or County/ September 2015/ August 2015/ September 2014

COUNTIES

Will County/ 4.9%/ 5.6%/ 6.3%
Grundy County/ 5.3%/ 6.2%/ 6.8%

MUNICIPALITIES
Joliet/ 5.7%/ 6.6%/ 7.2%
Bolingbrook/ 4.7%/ 5.5%/ 6.2%
Homer Glen/ 4.1%/ 4.7%/5.5%
Lockport/ 4.3%/ 5.0%/ 5.9%
Plainfield/ 4.5%/ 5.3%/ 5.7%
Romeoville/ 5.2%/ 6.1%/ 7.4%

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