Amazon begins layoffs, impact on Seattle still unclear

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Amazon’s layoffs began Tuesday, signaling the first job cuts of what could end up totaling 10,000 positions. 

Workers posted on LinkedIn and on anonymous message boards they had received notice they had been laid off Tuesday, a day after news broke that the company would be cutting jobs this week. The impact on Amazon’s workers in the Seattle area is still unclear.

Amazon did not confirm the layoffs and could not be reached for comment.

The news rang across Amazon offices. Internal messages viewed by The Seattle Times described employees asking one another for tips on how to remain focused during the corporate upheaval, what their backup plans looked like and how to find a new job while so many tech companies were on a hiring freeze. 

Exchanging Slack instant messages, Amazon employees speculated that workers cut during the layoff would likely get an email or a meeting invitation, according to a message shared with The Seattle Times by an Amazon employee who asked to remain anonymous.

Washington’s Employment Security Department, which reports on job losses in the state, did not yet list any information about Amazon’s expected layoffs. Amazon will have to file a WARN notice with the state, indicating how many of the layoffs will impact Amazon’s Washington workforce.

The layoffs will likely focus on Amazon’s devices organization, including its voice assistant Alexa, as well as its retail and human resources divisions, according to a New York Times report.

The number of layoffs remains fluid and is likely to roll out team by team, rather than all at once as each business finishes plans, the report said. If it stays around 10,000, it would represent roughly 3% of Amazon’s corporate employees and less than 1% of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million. That total workforce is primarily composed of hourly workers.

Seattle is Amazon’s biggest campus, with 55,000 employees based in its South Lake Union headquarters. Amazon’s 18 other North American tech hubs together include roughly 65,000 employees. 

Amazon had been on a hiring spree outside the city to expand its Puget Sound presence. It hit 10,000 employees in Bellevue this summer and had hoped to raise that number to 25,000 in the next three years.

Amazon also planned to create 25,000 jobs in its second headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia.

That goal was put on pause this month when Amazon announced it would freeze hiring for all corporate roles.

The hiring freeze came at the same time Amazon had been paring back some projects, including robotics experiments, a virtual travel experience, a video device for kids and personal delivery robots.

Earlier this year, the company announced the end of its health care venture, Amazon Care. But on Tuesday, Amazon took another step toward the health care industry with the launch of Amazon Clinic, a message-based virtual health service.

Amazon joins a growing list of tech companies cutting jobs recently as the industry faces economic uncertainty. 

Microsoft, Meta, Twitter and Redfin have all recently made cuts or intend to make cuts to their workforces. The layoffs had an impact on the overall tech job market in the Seattle area.

Amazon hinted at its slowdown on a call with investors earlier in October to report its third-quarter financial results.

Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky told investors Amazon “is taking action to tighten our belts, including pausing hiring in certain businesses and winding down products and services where we believe our resources are better spent elsewhere.”

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