Amazon Rolls Out Disability Hiring Initiative

SEATTLE — On one afternoon shift, Michael Howard logged some 15,000 steps pushing a cart around the aisles of an Amazon Prime Now warehouse, gathering groceries, electronics and countless other items for one- and two-hour delivery to customers.

“It’s fast-paced,” the 28-year-old Seattle man said. “You walk around. You get a lot of exercise.”

Howard is one of scores of Washington workers with disabilities employed directly by Amazon through a partnership with Northwest Center, a Seattle-based disability-services nonprofit. The partnership helped Amazon begin a much broader hiring initiative that over the last two years has resulted in several hundred people with disabilities hired across at least nine states. 

“I’m grateful to actually have gotten a job,” Howard said during a work break. “It’s just part time, but even still, it’s a good job. … I’m making above minimum wage.”

The national unemployment rate for people with disabilities — more than 30 million people 16 and older — is about double the rate of the broader working population.

Leaders at Northwest Center, which has worked with Amazon quietly since 2002, think they have hit on a new model with the company that will demonstrate to other businesses the potential in this historically overlooked group of people. READ MORE


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