Amazon’s 100,000 job cuts reflect industry-wide adjustments to economic uncertainty

The news: Amazon shrank its staff by 100,000 last quarter, joining the ranks of Netflix and Google in an industry-wide adjustment to reduced profits, heightened inflation, and unprecedented pandemic growth, per Bloomberg.

Why it’s worth watching: Amazon, which is the second-largest employer in the United States (behind Walmart), also revealed during its earnings call last week that it’s been adding jobs at the slowest rate since 2019.

  • Amazon’s reduction affected 6% of its headcount and is by far the largest cut in a single quarter. Amazon reportedly overstaffed its warehouses to ramp up pandemic-driven demand.
  • Even with the quarter-over-quarter decline, its employment is still up 14% YoY, from 1.36 million people in the second quarter of 2021.
  • Amazon’s job cuts reflect a course-correction across various industries that are adjusting their businesses in the wake of weaker earnings and challenging economic conditions.

Job cuts across the industry: Over 28,000 tech workers at more than 150 companies have been cut from their roles since the beginning of the year.

  • Microsoft, Gopuff, and Twitter announced layoffs last week.
  • Alphabet, Google’s parent company slowed down on recruiting, and while the company added 10,000 new hires in Q2, it will step on the hiring brakes for the rest of the year except for engineering and technical talent.
  • Apple has similarly said it plans to slow down hiring even as it approaches the busy fall period with new iPhones and Macs waiting to be released.
  • Twitter is in a hiring freeze and laid off 30% of its hiring acquisition team.
  • Meta, Facebook’s parent company, slashed plans to hire new engineers by 30%.
  • Tesla cut 200 Autopilot jobs as it closed its San Mateo, California, facility. CEO Elon Musk said that 10% of salaried employees would lose their jobs
  • Shopify announced it was laying off 1,000 employees, or 10% of its workforce, mostly in recruiting, support, and sales. 
  • Oracle is similarly cutting workers as part of a larger plan to reduce its headcount by thousands and save $1 billion in costs for the year.

The rash of layoffs could accelerate Big Tech’s labor movement: This year’s initial unionization efforts have yielded mixed results but could intensify as tech workers seek better representation and protection from layoffs. 

Key takeaways: Big Tech and adjacent businesses are reeling from the decline in pandemic-era spending and slowing advertising spending, and this is being reflected in hiring slowdowns and layoffs. 

  • The job outlook remains grim in the short term as entire industries navigate revenue shortfalls and unpredictable economic conditions. 
  • The situation is not permanent, as many technology companies in high-growth businesses will need to staff up accordingly to pursue growth and expansion. 
  • The fallout of the current job cuts might make potential hires more selective in deciding which companies to consider.