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At the end of 2008, Amazon reached a notable milestone, topping 20,000 employees worldwide. Turns out the company was getting started.

Four years later, Amazon is quickly approaching the 90,000 mark, disclosing in its earnings report yesterday that it had 88,400 full- and part-time employees as of Dec. 31. If the meteoric growth continues, Amazon is on pace to surpass its fellow Seattle-area tech titan, Microsoft, in direct employees this year, as you can see in the chart above.

That comparison comes with lots of caveats, including the fact that neither company includes contract workers in its public employment counts. Microsoft, for one, has a giant workforce of people who work for the company indirectly through employment agencies. In addition, large swaths of their workforces are very different, thanks to Amazon’s growing network of distribution centers.

Amazon doesn’t say how many of its employees are here in the Seattle region. (Microsoft employs more than 41,000 in the region.) But looking at the chart above, it becomes pretty clear why Amazon needs all that extra space in its hometown — and then some.

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