Amazon could be the first company worth $1 trillion -- but it will cost a lot of jobs to get there

Amazon warehouse, New JerseySarah JacobsAmazon is changing the job landscape in the US, taking away retail jobs but adding ones in its warehouses and elsewhere.
  • Amazon is growing like crazy and might be the first company to be worth $US1 trillion.
  • But, regulation and public pressures over the changing job market may hinder Amazon’s rise.

Amazon has shot to historic highs this year and could eventually be the first company to reach a $US1 trillion market cap.

According to Anindya Ghose, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, the e-commerce giant could be the first company to break through the $US1 trillion barrier for market capitalisation. The company is currently worth about $US476.07 billion, which means it would need a 110.1% increase in its stock price to reach that level.

But Ghose thinks Amazon’s rise will come at the expense of lots of retail jobs. “In many ways, it might actually be a blessing in disguise because it’s also simultaneously going to cost lots of jobs in the economy,” Ghose told Business Insider.

The company has already announced a pilot grocery store where customers simply walk out with the items they want, with an in-store tracking system automatically charging customers’ accounts the price of the chosen goods. This type of innovation could mean the end of traditional cashier jobs.

“We deal with humans today when we walk into Whole Foods or another store. Amazon wants to get rid of that,” Ghose said. Amazon recently announced its intentions to buy Whole Foods for $US13.7 billion, and there could be a loss of jobs at the high-end grocer soon.

Amazon’s moves toward automating checkout lines have furthered a trend among retailers, as Walmart recently announced its plans to let customers check out with a handheld scanner. The new tech allows customers to skip the checkout lines at the store and pay via a linked credit card.

This level of job losses could draw regulatory scrutiny. Democratic lawmakers took aim at huge modern companies and mega-mergers in their “Better Deal” plan that was announced recently. The plan hopes to take a fresh look at antitrust laws as they apply to modern companies and look into the power of large companies like Amazon.

One defence Amazon could use against accusations of job losses would be that it creates jobs for people elsewhere in the economy. 20,000 people applied for a job at Amazon in a day-long job fair where the company was looking to fill 50,000 warehouse jobs.

And Amazon’s sheer scale and diversity of its businesses could pose another obstacle for any antitrust action. For regulators to successfully bring a case against Amazon, they would have to change how we think about monopolies and antitrust law, Ghose said.

“Amazon is not just a retail company. In the most recent quarter, Amazon’s retail grew 25% year over year but the biggest bang for the buck came from Amazon Web Services, which grew 55% year over year,” Ghose said.

Amazon is making big strides in artificial intelligence, with products like its Echo speaker, as well as advertising, where it is successfully stealing market share from the ever-dominant Google. Ghose said traditional monopolies take over a single industry and drive out the competition, while Amazon has managed to take over several industries.

Regulating this new type of monopoly and addressing the changing nature of the job market would require a shift in lawmakers’ mindsets, Ghose said.

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