Amazon to pay for workers' bachelor's degrees

Amazon to pay for workers' bachelor's degrees
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Retail giant Amazon announced on Thursday that it will be expanding employee education benefits, which will now include fully funding associate and bachelor's degrees. 

The initiative will affect over 750,000 hourly employees who now have the chance to have their tuition at “hundreds of education partners across the country” completely paid for by Amazon, the company said in a statement.

The company said that it would also place funding toward General Educational Development (GED) credentials, ESL certifications and completion efforts toward a high school diploma. Employees in all circumstances need to have worked at the company for at least 90 days in order to be eligible.

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In an added incentive, Amazon said in its announcement that fees and tuition will be paid for employees ahead of time instead of relying on workers get reimbursements. 

The announcement comes as retail chains, restaurants and other service industry businesses are trying to find innovative ways to retain current employees and attract new ones amid a competitive labor market. 

Companies hope that these initiatives might be able to help improve a tough jobs market where a disappointing jobs report released last week by the Labor Department reported that only 235,000 jobs were added in August versus the 750,000 projected by some economists. The unemployment rate also slid to 5.2 percent.

Economists blamed a surge of COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the novel coronavirus for the poor performance.

In July, Walmart announced a similar measure to Amazon, saying that associates’ books and tuition would be paid for by the company, affecting 1.5 million part-time and full-time associates working at Walmart and Sam’s Club.