Amazon could be planning to lay off about 10,000 workers, according to information published on Monday by The New York Times. The layoffs, which could come as early as this week, will focus on the devices division, which makes the Alexa voice assistant, as well as retail and human resources. It would be the largest workforce adjustment in the history of the company, founded in Seattle in 1994.
The figure represents 3% of Amazon’s permanent workers and 1% of the total workforce, which adds up to around 1.5 million employees worldwide, most of them hourly workers. If confirmed, the layoffs will come at one of Amazon’s critical workload times, with the gift-giving season that begins on Black Friday and ends with the holiday season right around the corner.
Amazon is the latest tech company to announce mass layoffs, following Meta (Facebook), which last week confirmed its plans to get rid of 11,000 employees (13%) and Twitter, which fired around half of its workforce, around 3,700 people, following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media company.
The reasons for the latest round of layoffs are to be found in the pandemic. Lockdowns around the world following the emergence of the coronavirus in early 2020 led to a huge increase in e-commerce, and as a result, the most profitable year for Amazon, which doubled its workforce and increased investments.
But consumer habits did not prove to be as lasting as analysts had predicted. In early 2022, growth stalled at the lowest rate in two decades. The company had to pay for past excesses, and faced high costs from overinvestment and overly optimistic expansion.