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Amazon’s hiring spree could include 700 new jobs in Mass.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Job hunters lined up at the check-in table at Amazon’s Fall River fulfillment center.

By Globe Staff 

Hundreds of people looking for work swarmed the massive Amazon warehouse in Fall River Wednesday for a job fair — part of a one-day recruiting event by the e-commerce giant that was held at about a dozen sites nationwide.

Candidates in Fall River — some of whom were offered jobs on the spot — ranged from teenagers to retirees, some dressed in shorts and sneakers, others in suits and ties. Their backgrounds varied widely: restaurant prep cook, 7-Eleven clerk, lawyer, CVS manager, Walmart stocker, hospital manager, Dunkin’ Donuts worker, security guard, and an iPhone repairman. About 400 people attended the event.

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Many came for the opportunity to work full time, with benefits, including a 401(k) match and tuition assistance. Such “extras” are rare at the entry level of employment.

Amazon said it planned to hire thousands of people nationwide Wednesday, potentially filling up to 50,000 positions. Nearly 40,000 of the jobs — most of them involving packing, sorting, and shipping — would be full time, counting toward the goal of adding 100,000 full-time workers by the middle of next year. About 20,00 were actually hired Wednesday.

The company aims to fill 700 jobs in Massachusetts, with many at the 1.3 million-square-foot Fall River facility, where 1,500 people already work. Employees at the warehouse focus on sorting, labeling, and shipping what the company calls ‘‘non-sortable’’ items — products such as shovels, kayaks, surfboards, grills, car seats — and lots of giant diaper boxes.

The company received nearly $15 million in tax breaks from the state and Freetown and Fall River to build the warehouse, which opened in September and straddles the border between the two towns.

Amazon is advertising starting wages that range from $11.50 an hour in Chattanooga, Tenn., to $13.75 in Kent, Wash., near its Seattle headquarters.

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But showing up Wednesday wasn’t a guarantee of employment. Maureen Schell, 57, gave up after several hours of waiting in Fall River. She said the fair was nothing more than a ‘‘drive to get bodies in the door so they can cherry-pick the warehouse staff they want.’’

‘‘It looks like they’re looking for young, healthy warehouse staff only,’’ Schell said.

Other job fair sites included Amazon facilities in Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Illinois, and Indiana.


Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com
Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.