Construction began in December of the Amazon fulfillment center in Bondurant. This photo, taken in April, is of  the north side of the facility. Business Record file photo 

Amazon Inc. has begun hiring for its Bondurant fulfillment center, a facility that will employ more than 1,000 people full time, according to the online retail giant’s website.

A large percentage of the people Amazon hires will likely be those who lost jobs as a result of the pandemic, according to David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist.

The addition of the new jobs comes during a time when there are more than twice as many people unemployed in the Des Moines-West Des Moines metropolitan statistical area than there was a year ago, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics shows. In August, the most recent data available, 22,537 Des Moines-area people were unemployed; in August 2019, 9,845 were without jobs. 

The metro area’s unemployment in August was 6.5%, according to the bureau of labor; in August 2019, it was 2.6%.

A substantial number of the metro-area’s unemployed worked in establishments hit hardest by the COVID-19-related  shutdowns, Swenson wrote in an email. Those establishments include restaurants, bars and hotels.

“Many of [those workers] will not be rehired in those sectors anytime soon, if ever,” Swenson wrote. Many of the currently unemployed workers were paid less than the $15-an-hour now being offered by Amazon.

“This means that a good fraction of the Amazon jobs will likely re-employ many pandemic-displaced workers,” Swenson wrote. “Amazon can also expect to attract existing workers in the area who are not making $15 an hour.” The employment pool for the fulfillment center, which is located in northeast Polk County, will also likely come from parts of Marion, Jasper and Marshall counties, according to Swenson.

“It will be a welcome boost for a portion of the unemployed, but after everything shakes out over the course of the next year, it will nonetheless represent a comparatively minor component of the metro’s recovery,” he wrote.

According to Amazon’s website, it is offering signing bonuses of $500 for some positions. While an Amazon spokeswoman would not say specifically when the facility is expected to open, its website said hiring bonuses would be paid to those whose first day of work was on or before Nov. 28.

Positions Amazon is hiring for include trainers; data analysts; process assistants; dock, shipping and receiving clerks; warehouse team members; loss prevention specialist; and onsite medical representative.

For some positions, pay ranges from $15 an hour to $16.60 an hour. Pay was not included for all positions listed. 

Amazon, based in Seattle, Wash., announced in February that it was opening a fulfillment center in Bondurant. The announcement was made more than four months after the Bondurant City Council approved a site plan for the $295.56 million project.

Related article:Amazon owns just 3.4% of fulfillment centers it occupies