Today, Amazon will begin the awful process of laying off 18,000 workers, or 6 percent of its corporate workforce of 350,000 employees.
“Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told employees in early January. “These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure.”
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Announced earlier this month, this jobs cut is the largest in Amazon’s history, and it comes in the wake of a previous round of layoffs that impacted 10,000 employees. That first set of layoffs weighed heavily on the groups making Alexa and Alexa-powered devices. But this new round will be broader and will mostly impact retail and human resources.
Amazon went on a hiring spree during the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered a boom time for its retail operations: Its employee count hit 1.6 million at the end of 2021, up from under 800,000 at the end of 2019. But it’s been hit hard by the post-pandemic hangover, with slowing sales growth and higher expenses. And in addition to job cuts, it has instituted a hiring freeze across most of its operations.
Of course, Amazon isn’t alone in responding this way to a challenging economic environment: Cisco, HP, Intel, Meta, Qualcomm, Salesforce, Twitter, and other tech giants have all announced layoffs. And Microsoft is expected to begin a new round of layoffs today that could impact 10,000 of its 220,000 employees.