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Amazon's 3,000 remote jobs come with a caveat

The home office with a cat, phone, and computer.
The home office. Photo: Getty

In one of the biggest remote hiring pushes in memory, Amazon has 3,000 jobs open for remote customer service representatives. But there are caveats.

Between the lines: The Amazon customer service jobs, available in 18 states, are temporary, a company spokesperson said, with no career ladder. And they will be just an average of 20–29 hours per week at $15 an hour, which is the company's minimum wage.

  • The description also requires applicants to have a basic level of internet access, which, Christina Stacy of the Urban Institute says, can be a barrier for many of the people who live too far away from jobs.
  • 58% of Americans living in rural areas say access to high-speed internet is a problem in their area, per Pew.
  • The job does, however, offer health benefits after 90 days of employment, something that is rare for such jobs, says Stacy.

Amazon already has its hand in a very different kind of remote work: Companies use its Mechanical Turk platform to find freelancers for small, usually menial online tasks, for which they pay very little. The crowdsourcing platform had half a million registered workers in 2015.

Why it matters: As we've reported, a much overlooked reason why millions of Americans are out of work is that they live too far from jobs, and they either can't afford to or are unwilling to move.

  • For these job seekers, remote work can be an ideal solution. "[Amazon] could be an example of how technological change can be a source of upward mobility for people who don't live near opportunity," says Stacy.
  • The work-from-home movement also benefits single parents and those with disabilities who might not be able to easily leave their homes for work, says Stacy.