Technology

Amazon CEO Says Job Cuts To Exceed 18,000 Roles

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Amazon.com Inc's layoffs will now increase to more than 18,000 roles as part of a workforce reduction it previously disclosed, chief executive Andy Jassy said in a public staff note.

The layoff decisions, which Amazon will communicate starting Jan. 18, will largely impact the company's e-commerce and human-resources organisations, he said.

The cuts amount to 6% of Amazon's roughly 300,000-person corporate workforce and represent a swift turn for a retailer that recently doubled its base pay ceiling to compete more aggressively for talent.

Online giant Amazon has more than 1.5 million workers including warehouse staff, making it America's second-largest private employer after Walmart Inc.

'Uncertain Economy'

Jassy said in the note that annual planning "has been more difficult given the uncertain economy and that we've hired rapidly over the last several years."

Amazon has braced for likely slower growth as soaring inflation encouraged businesses and consumers to cut back spending and its share price has halved in the past year.

The company began letting staff go in November from its devices division, with a source telling Reuters at the time it was targeting around 10,000 cuts.

The tech industry shed more than 150,000 workers in 2022, according to tracking site Layoffs.fyi, a number that's continuing to grow. Salesforce Inc said Wednesday it planned to eliminate about 10% of staff, which numbered nearly 8,000 as of Oct. 31.

Change In Fortunes

The reversal of Amazon's fortunes has been stark. It changed from a business deemed essential during the pandemic for delivering goods to locked-down homes, to a company that overbuilt for demand. Its layoffs now surpass the 11,000 cuts announced last year by Facebook-parent Meta Platforms Inc.

Jassy's note followed a report in the Wall Street Journal that the reduction would be more than 17,000 jobs. He said Amazon chose to disclose the news before informing affected staff because of a leak.

Amazon still must file certain legal notices about mass layoffs, and it plans to pay severance.

Jassy said, "Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so."

Analyst Viewpoint

According to AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould, “The biggest reduction in Amazon’s workforce in its history is worth keeping in perspective for several reasons. While 18,000 job cuts sound like a lot – in the context of a workforce of more than 1.5 million it is a drop in the ocean.

“It’s also important to consider where the cuts are being made. They are mostly in areas like human resources as well as its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh physical stores, and the latter represent something of an experiment for the company.

“Amazon has often tested the waters in different markets, but it probably feels in the current climate that the focus should be on its core e-commerce and Amazon Web Services cloud operations."

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. For more technology news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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