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Pain Points: Data on Work Intensity, Monitoring, and Health at Amazon Warehouses

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Version 2 2024-01-24, 16:22
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posted on 2024-01-24, 16:22 authored by Beth GuteliusBeth Gutelius, Sanjay PintoSanjay Pinto

The leading online retailer in the United States by some distance, Amazon has also grown to become the country’s largest employer of warehouse workers, with a workforce of more than 700,000. Media reports and government investigations have raised concerns about the pace and monitoring of work at Amazon and the safety and health of its workforce. Based on a national survey of 1,484 frontline Amazon warehouse workers across 451 facilities and 42 states, the following are some key findings on these issues:

  • 41% percent of workers report being injured while working at an Amazon warehouse; 51% at the company for more than three years have been injured. 
  • 69% have had to take unpaid time off due to pain or exhaustion from working at the company in the past month; 34% have had to do so three or more times.
  • 52% feel burned out from their work at Amazon. Among those working at the company for more than three years, 60% report feeling burned out.
  • 41% always/most of the time feel pressure to work faster, and another 30% sometimes do.
  • Injury (53%) and burnout (78%) are elevated among those feeling pressure to work faster always/most of the time.
  • 60% experience more workplace monitoring at Amazon than at previous jobs, 9% experience less monitoring, and 17% say the level is about the same.

Together, these findings indicate that a logistics system geared towards unrelenting speed and maximum customer convenience exacts a heavy toll on the health and wellbeing of many Amazon warehouse workers. In turn, this health toll brings unmeasured economic impacts, given the immediate costs of unpaid time off from work and the potential long-term effects of pain, injury, and burnout on workers’ livelihoods. Stronger regulatory guardrails and advances that afford workers greater voice and input could help improve Amazon's working conditions.

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Gutelius, B. and Pinto, S. (2023). Pain Points: Data on Work Intensity, Monitoring, and Health at Amazon Warehouses. Center for Urban Economic Development, University of Illinois Chicago. https://doi.org/10.25417/uic.24435124

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